Living long term in a Sportsmobile is tight quarters enough for two people, but adding a dog to the mix ups the game. Which is why it seems so many full time RVers own little lapdogs I guess. But what about those of us who have a bigger hound? This post shows my DIY solution to help keep our pooch Calli out from underfoot on the floor while in camp. Especially in the winter when she doesn’t want to be outside all night. Plus, she now has such a comfy bed that she doesn’t covet OUR sleeping spot.
The bed frame is made from 11/16” plywood. A little thinner and lighter would probably have been fine, but I used a scrap I had in stock. The convoluted shape is what was needed to fit into the console and between the seats in our 2010 Ford E-350 SMB. Different consoles and seats will require a different pattern. I am not a good enough draftsman/measurer/carpenter to be able to cut out such a thing just from a set of measurements. Instead, I am a big fan of first making a cardboard pattern for such projects, and once I get a bunch of pieces of cardboard cut and taped into the desired shape I then trace it out on plywood and saw away.
The zigzag cuts outlined in red were made so that the dog bed could be put in place fitting around the seatbelt latch when the passenger seat is facing forward. But it turned out we never use it that way, so the fancy cutting wasn’t necessary. Unfortunately, cutting out that part of the plywood left sharper corners which dug into the passenger seat, so I screwed some plastic tubing over the corners for protection.
The small piece of 2”x4” wood (outlined in yellow) acts as a spacer to help keep the plywood frame level.
The bed upholstery came from a $1 blanket at the thrift store. I wanted something cozy for the hound of course, but also something heavy duty and easy to keep clean. I sewed Velcro into the edges of the blanket outlined in green, so that the inner padding can be easily removed when washing the cover.
For the bed padding I used a scrap piece of memory foam I got off the free pile when some neighbors moved. We do a lot of winter camping when it drops down to as low as 0°F outside. To conserve the battery we don’t run the furnace at night, and with just our body heat the interior stays above freezing. However, memory foam gets damn stiff and hard at such temperatures. As many DIY threads on this SMB forum have noted, memory foam is a poor choice for humans when it is cold. But hey, our Lab is happy to curl up in snow, or break through ice to go swimming, so she seems fine with it.
As shown in this side view, I taped a few layers of blue foam (outlined in orange) to the underside. This sits to the left of the plywood on top of the left side of the driver’s seat when in place. Otherwise the bed has a ledge in the middle, which might have been uncomfortable for Calli. But I doubt she really would have cared.
Underside view. I mounted a 1”x2” board on a hinge underneath. This leg gives keeps the whole thing rigid when in place. Otherwise when Calli, or a human, sits on the edge of the bed it will cause the passenger seat to sag down, making the whole bed tilt.
This tilting was exacerbated by the cuts (shown in red) I made to fit the board around the seat belts if the seat is in the forward facing position, as mentioned earlier. Had these cuts not been made there would have been more plywood in contact with the passenger seat, and perhaps the folding leg would not have been needed. But I still think the leg is worthwhile. Maybe. Think it though when you make yours to fit your rig.
I put a little latch (shown in purple) to hold the leg in place when it gets put away.
Installed and in place. This bed is a good fit for our dog, but Calli is a smallish Lab, weighing 55 pounds. It is long enough for her to stretch out, as seen in the first photo. But if you have a smaller dog, you could reduce the size of the bed without them complaining I’ll bet.