It’s important to stay calm when disaster hits, including a car breaking down, in the heat with your dog. With the summer heat comes more travel and fun activities. Is the beach or mountain calling to you and your dog? But what do you do if you’re on your way to a fun outing, and suddenly you find your car is broken down with your dog?
For example, my car recently broke down on the hot highway with my dog. Trust me, it’s not exactly the best place for your car to quit. However, I always like making lemonades out of lemons, including my lemon car. In this article, I’ll walk you through how to stay calm when your car breaks down and your dog is with you.
Steps to take when your car breaks down with your dog
Here’s what I learned you should do if you and your dog find yourself in a similar situation:
1. Get in a safe place
This may be just pulling as far off the road or over to the side as possible. In my case, there was a small shoulder on the bridge of the highway where I quickly parked. Use your best judgment and park safely for you, your dog, and those around you. If you can try to get to a shady spot, especially if it’s hot.
2. Put your hazard lights on
We don’t often use our hazard lights. And to be honest, I had to look for mine. But, it’s really important to put them on when your car breaks down. This alerts other drivers that you’re not moving and broken down. This will hopefully slow traffic around you. It will also allow roadside service to find you easier.
3. Call for help
If you have roadside service, this is the time to call them. Make sure to tell them you’re in a dangerous place (if you are), which moves you up in line. You should still expect to wait a while. I waited an hour for any help to arrive and I was on a dangerous high-traffic bridge.
4. Help your dog
Now, turn to your dog. Is there any safe place in the shade for your dog to be outside your car? If not, then:
- roll down all your windows
- move your dog to a shady spot in your car
- try to leave your dog in his safety seat, crate, harness, or however you safely transport him in your car
- give your dog some water
- if your dog is panting a lot, then put some water on his head. This will help cool him.
- pet him
- talk to him in a calm voice, this will also help calm you
- While this is may seem like an odd time, use it as a time to bond with your dog. It will help both you and your dog.
5. Stay in your car
If you find your car broken down with your dog in an unsafe area, like a bridge, move to a shadier area in your car and wait inside your car with your dog. It’s safer to be inside than outside with fast-moving traffic or on a bridge with no sidewalks.
6. Drink water
Especially if it’s a hot day, don’t forget to drink water. As I mentioned earlier, you may have to wait for an hour or more for roadside service to arrive. If you don’t have a lot of water, pace yourself and make sure you share with your dog. Remember help is coming.
Remember to breathe. While being stuck in a weird spot with your dog feels very uncomfortable, remember that it’s only temporary and rescue is on its way. It can be scary to be broken down in your car and not in control of the situation. Try to focus on your dog and what you’ll do when you get home. Think of the situation as a memory although it’s in the present. Put yourself ahead in time with your dog, sitting on your couch, and enjoying a cool glass of tea.
With a bit of planning, you will be prepared for an incident. I like to have a bag in my car with dog treats, towel, water, etc. I will change it out with the seasons. It’s an emergency bag. You never know when you’ll hit a major traffic jam. So, while there’s not much to add to the budget, the benefits of being prepared and calm are priceless.
Summary of how to successfully handle a car breakdown with your dog
While a car breaking down can happen anytime or anywhere, breaking down in the heat with your dog on a busy freeway bridge is a challenge to anyone’s zen. With just a few easy steps you’ll be able to handle any breakdown your car hands you. These steps include getting to as safe a place as possible, putting your hazard lights on, calling for help, making sure your dog is safe and reassured, staying in your car, drinking water, and breathing.
Of course, these steps are simple. However, it’s amazing how in the middle of a crisis you can easily forget them.