Tesla's Dog Mode has been one of its most well-revered features ever since it was revealed. It allows pet owners to temporarily exit their vehicles while keeping their pets safe and cool in the car. But what happens when it malfunctions?

A newer software update pushed by Tesla to its fleet has raised questions on the reliability of Dog Mode in its cars, leading to at least two reports of the bug on social media. But not all owners are reporting issues—some say the feature works fine, which perhaps makes the issue even scarier since the failure seems to be rare and unpredictable.

So while the mode may work for most owners, it may have the chance of malfunctioning and resulting in an uncontrolled temperature in the cabin.

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Tesla's 2024.20.1 Update

Part of the "magic" that many Tesla owners love are new and improved features pushed via over-the-air updates. The update referenced here is 2024.20.1, which also brings "Hot Weather Improvements" to the car. Tesla says its newest update helps cool down the cabin faster and maintain comfort at lower noise levels.

For those unfamiliar with the feature, Dog Mode is meant to safely leave a pet inside of a vehicle without its owners. The mode activates the car's climate control at a specific temperature and keeps it enabled after the occupants exit the vehicle. It also locks the windows and doors to prevent the pet from accidentally opening them. Finally, a message is displayed on the car's infotainment screen to inform passers-by that the pet is in a temperature-controlled car.

Needless to say, these are pretty fantastic features for owners who need to make a quick run into a convenience store while their pet stays safe and comfortable.

However, it appears that the feature may give owners a false sense of security with the its 2024.20.1 update. Despite Dog Mode being enabled, the feature appears to—in some cases—fail to maintain temperature in the cabin, creating an environment that can quickly cause the animal to overheat. Thankfully, the car will push a notification to the owner's phone which alerts them of the problem, but that doesn't negate the issue.

One affected owner, as pointed out by Drive Tesla Canada, says that when they opened a support ticket with Tesla they were told that the Dog Mode failure was a "known characteristic of current firmware" and would be addressed in a future release.

The affected Redditor later shared an update from the Tesla Service team:

Our remote test did confirm a firmware issue with dog mode at this time, still under investigation [...] please refrain from using dog mode for the time being.

InsideEVs was not able to confirm this issue with Tesla directly as the automaker dissolved its PR department in 2020. No official communication from the automaker has been issued at the time of publication.

I did, however, test the feature on one of my Model 3s and (like many others on social media) was unable to replicate the failure. However, I was able to observe cabin temperature fluctuations of up to 6 degrees from the set temperature.

That shouldn't discount the possibility of it happening, though, so owners should remain vigilant and take precautions to prevent any mishaps with their own cars and animals.

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Currently, 53.7% of Tesla's fleet has software version 2024.20.1 deployed according to Not A Tesla App, which leaves a lot of potential issues for pets. Tesla also has a subsequent release, 2024.20.3, released to 0.6% of its fleet, though it's not clear if the issue is fixed in that update.

So what can owners do to prevent any sort of mishap?

The best answer is not to leave any pet in the car until a confirmed fix is rolled out, however, those unable to do so should carefully monitor the cabin temperature using their Tesla app and be mindful of any push notifications sent to their phones in case one is related to the cabin temperature or malfunction of Dog Mode.

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