Dog Proofing your RV

We have traveled in our Class B motorhome with 2 to 5 dogs.  They are all ~50 lb. Standard Poodles, so shedding was not a problem, but dirty paws were. And the seats in our Roadtrek were in perfect condition when we bought it. The carpet was in not so perfect condition. We started with some cheap tan fleece throws over the seats.  They just were not the right size and we were always tucking them in.  We bought 2 fleece blankets and cut one in half to cover the 2 dinette seats and cut the other in thirds to cover the 3 front seats. The front ones were always getting pulled down off the seat backs, so we obtained some elastic straps meant to hold sheets in place on mattress corners. They worked, but often the fleece covers and elastic got stretched out and the result looked more like redneck seat covers than smooth and attractive.

We looked into getting seat covers, but we really didn’t find good options that panned out. For the back, Lynn made fitted covers like a fitted sheet in the correct size. They got dirty faster than the blanket pieces and were insanely difficult to remove and put back on. And washing them did not return them to like-new condition. When we traveled with dogs, the seat covers often needed washing after 3-5 days, depending on the weather and where we camped. We did not want more laundry to do on the road! And we wanted our Roadtrek to look uncluttered and clean – even with dogs!

Synthetic Cork

We debated where to start.  We finally decided to deal with the floor first.  That rear carpet had to go.  Our challenge was handling access to the underfloor trunk.  The tri-fold door worked fine with carpet, but not well with solid flooring.  We followed the example of another Roadtrek owner and put a solid piece of wood with two marine style latches.  But what should we use for flooring? Perhaps some vinyl planks? We pulled up the old carpet and put down a layer of black synthetic cork beneath to add insulation. There was carpet on the floors of the storage compartments, so we put cork under those also. While searching for flooring we liked, we found on clearance some attractive oak pattern soft sheet vinyl at Lowes and bought enough to do 2 Roadtreks for $22! We had not even been thinking about sheet vinyl. We glued down the vinyl in the back and cut a loose piece for the dropped floor as well. Now the floors matched and it was easy to roll up the vinyl on the dropped floor when using the shower.

We put the loose piece on top of the oak pattern foam tiles on the dropped floor for winter use. The dog’s toenails would eventually damage the foam tiles, but they didn’t hurt the tough vinyl. We tried a yoga mat underneath the vinyl flooring for summer use. The vinyl cleans up super easy, but it tends to roll under at the end, so we probably need to glue it to the mat to keep it from moving.

While putting the cork under the carpet in the storage areas we also bought a roll of Thinsulate insulation and covered the wheel wells. This made a remarkable change in the temperature under the dinette seats! We also cut strips to fill in some of the gaps in the Roadtrek installed insulation behind the wall panels at the top and around the windows.  The stuff is easy to work with and you can tuck in into odd shaped cavities.  It is white with a black backing cloth and it is not damaged by moisture.  Our flooring was now dog proof.  But we had to deal with the seats.  We still hadn't come up with a better solution than our “redneck” seat covers!

Meanwhile our friends with a Class A silver bullet Airstream had faced the same dog problem. They had their seats all reupholstered in a hospital vinyl fabric, a light cream color. We thought they were crazy – light cream upholstery with dogs!  But hospital vinyl is made to withstand blood and other nasty things and to be cleaned with heavy duty cleaners and still look good and be sanitary. Our friend’s Airstream was proof. Several years later it still looked perfect and they just wiped off any dirt with a sponge or paper towel.

We called them and asked about the source of their hospital vinyl. “Spradling,“ they said. We found the Spradling website. They made commercial upholstery fabrics – many for hospital and marine use in additional to the typical commercial uses. Our interior was blue, so we ordered samples of various blues (about a dozen). Our friends advised us to ask for the larger samples. When they arrived we put them next to our new curtains. We picked 3 blues we both liked, then we marked those with a black Sharpie permanent marker.

Three days later, we sprayed them with 409 cleaner and tried to remove the permanent marker. On one of the 3 it came off easily. That was the one we wanted! We knew commercial fabrics were expensive – and this one was both for hospital and marine use – and started Googling for sources. To our surprise we found it for a reasonable price from one online vendor – but it was a minimum 15-yard special order. We’d need that much so we ordered 18 yards to be sure.

You might wonder about vinyl.  In the days of before air conditioned cars I remember sticking to the vinyl seats in the hot humid days of summer.  Cloth was so much nicer – but not a good idea for dogs.  Leather was only slightly better than vinyl for hot weather.  But we have A/C these days.  And the leather and leather-like products just are not as durable as a good vinyl.  We ordered the vinyl.

The big roll arrived and we had checked and found an auto trim shop that would cover the seats. The owner suggested using a contrasting edging and after looking at the various options, picked white.  We did the seats in phases. The dinette seats first and then the front seats.  We made a couple of wedge-shaped cushions for the back for lounging.

We had double pockets put on the back of the front seats with one of them deep enough for a road atlas. We had never found a great place for the road atlas in the past, but now we had the perfect spot! When we get a break from our travels we will cover the door panels.

The front carpet was looking worn and dirty too, so we replaced it while the front seats were being reupholstered.  The doghouse cover was also redone with the new front carpet and the vinyl used on the seats.  We think it looks great.

We ran a good test of everything on a 7 week trip with our 2 dogs. The seats were easily wiped clean, no extra laundry, and the floor was easily swept wiped clean. Use of a microfiber bath mat on the dropped floor worked well to keep the dog’s water dishes from sliding and also provided a cushy spot for a dog (or dogs) to sleep. It could be vacuumed or swept and then thrown into the washer when we got home.  Abby prefers having the front bed made up for her to stretch out at night and Farley stays as close as he can to Lynn.

We have dog proofed the interior of our RV in a way to make it low maintenance and easy to keep clean. Our orange Bissell CleanView vacuum with its various attachments makes thorough floor leaning a snap. A wet towel and a little 409 can clean the rest. We are happy with the results.  The next part of dog proofing is a dog-proof screen door.

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