Craig R. Boyer: Much to consider when adopting a second dog

columns@modbee.comFebruary 25, 2014 

EC Boyer01

ED CRISOSTOMO — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

Are you ready to adopt a dog? I’m sure your kids are ready for a new playmate. Your spouse doesn’t mind either.

But what do you do if you already have a dog?

Lacey, my now 12-year old Lab/Sheltie mix, was already a member of the family when we decided an extra dog was what we needed and applied to become a foster home for an animal adoption group. But Lacey wasn’t used to other dogs.

We fostered our first dog, a Sheltie/collie mix named Coco, in November 2006. A year later, we fostered our eighth dog, a Doberman/whippet mix named Sandy.

Sandy was such a good fit that we couldn’t imagine her with anyone but us.

At the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency shelter, where I volunteer, many dogs go home to families who already have dogs. A recent adoptee, a boxer named Tiger Lily, went home to a couple with two golden retrievers.

The Stanislaus shelter encourages dog owners to let their dogs meet and get to know any planned extra dogs. It’s a simple process.

Check how many dogs you’re allowed – This is the most important step. In Modesto, you’re allowed two dogs; other locales allow three or four. You won’t be allowed to adopt if you’re at your limit. I’ve seen that considered too late.

Finding that next dog – You’re looking for a dog that can complement your current dog’s behavior. A calm dog is a good match for an older, weary dog, while a submissive or laid-back dog goes great with an assertive type. Research the dog’s breed to see their characteristics. A meet-and-greet will let you see how a dog reacts to another and how your dogs are likely to get along.

Is your dog able to visit? – You must bring proof that your dog is up-to-date on its shots. If your dog is registered in Stanislaus County, the front desk can pull up information via computer. A sick dog can spread disease to other dogs, so the shelter needs assurance that it won’t happen.

The meet-and-greet – Come with your dog and paperwork. Shelter staff will assist in introducing your dog to one of the adoptables. Keep the dogs on leashes until you see how they react to one another. You can adopt the new dog right away if they get along.

Get them used to living together – This is to keep them from causing trouble. Let them meet for increasingly longer periods of time. Don’t leave them alone with each other until you know they’re ready. Feed them separately if either seems too greedy.

Give your dogs equal attention – Don’t leave your original dog out of your life. Let them know that they’re still loved while you play with your new dog. After all, an extra pet is an extra responsibility, emotionally and financially.

Other local adoption agencies include the Escalon and Manteca animal shelters, Wags and Whiskers and the Stanislaus Humane Society. They post their adoptables’ information online. If you find a dog you want from them, they’ll be glad to help you meet-and-greet.

It can take up to a few weeks for one dog to adjust to a new pet. With some effort, you and your dog will gain a trusted companion for the long run. And it will be worth the effort.

Sandy’s still with Lacey after all these years. They keep each other company when we’re not around. They positively influence each other. They’re good companions to each other and for us. We’re glad to have them both.

Boyer, a Modesto resident and community columnist, is a volunteer with the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency. Send questions or comments to

Modesto Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service