San Francisco is a city of dogs. But dating complaints aside, this place is teeming with canines wagging for a walk. Everyone’s got special spots and secret tricks to owning a dog in the city, so here’s a quick insider’s guide to where to go, how to get there, and what to do if you’re craving a pup of your own.

Story and Illustrations By Rose Garrett


Good old-fashioned walking your dog is the best way to get to where you’re going with some exercise thrown in. But if you’ve got miles to go, SF public transpo might consider throwing you a bone

MUNI: If you don’t have a service dog, prepare to muzzle and leash your hound and travel only outside of the peak commuter hours of 5-9am and 3-7pm, which is kind of a bummer. And according to official MUNI rules, a fare equal to the owner’s must be paid for each non-service animal.

Rose Garrett Dog Illustration

BART: Allows pets to be brought aboard at no additional charge, but stipulates that your animal “must be secured in a container that is specifically manufactured for transport of a pet,” which may work for your Chihuahua, but not so much for your Great Dane. Pets at-large or on a leash or harness (other than service dogs) are not permitted.

Caltrain: Has the stingiest policy of them all, allowing only service dogs onto their trains, with no exceptions. The workaround? Get your dog certified as an Emotional Support Animal (hey, we’ve all got issues), and you can take him on board with you every day. One Caltrain perk? Puppies in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind may board Caltrain at any time, so keep your eyes open for potential cute overload.

Dog-Friendly Spaces

Dogs need room to roam, and SF has a bunch of options of choose from, whether you’re going for city parks or more rugged terrain.

Parks: Duboce Park is a classic, but such out-of-the-way spots as Bernal Park and Glen Canyon make for more secluded dog-walking. Visit the almost-secret Corona Heights Park for a dog run with a breathtaking view of the city (multitask by bringing a date on your evening walk and a visit to smooch castle is almost guaranteed).

Rose Garrett Dog Illustration

Beaches & Fields: Look to Fort Funston for a vigorous off-leash outing. Other options for letting your dog wild and free are Baker Beach (north of Lobos Creek), Land’s End, Crissy Field and Ocean Beach. Dogs should always be under “voice control,” so if your dog has discipline issues, consider taking him to training before letting him off the leash.

(Doggie) Style

Folks in SF probably pay more attention to their dog’s duds than their own (and it shows. Zing!). These SF purveyors provide local products for poochie:

Timbuk2: The messenger bag maker’s Muttmover pack is perfect for biking with your smallish dog.

GwenGear: Choose from SF-made collars, harnesses and leashes in a myriad of colors and patterns.

Rose Garrett Dog Illustration

George: Another SF company that covers the gamut from doggie tags to beds and sweaters—since 1991!

Get Your Own

Do you frequent dog parks to stare creepily at other people’s pets? Maybe it’s time to get a pup of your own. These spots are the first places to look for canine companions:

Rocket Dog Rescue: This volunteer-run rescue organization saves dogs from being put down at over-crowded shelters and finds them loving, happy homes.

Wonder Dog Rescue: Wonder Dog rescues neglected puppies, elderly dogs, and everything in between, providing foster-care, medical care and adoption services.

SF SPCA: This go-to for all your adoption needs has the system down pat. Visit the SPCA to adopt a pet, or just to “look” at the impossibly cute kitties and pups (and then accidentally on purpose adopt one anyway).

Rose is pretty awesome, isn’t she? How to live in the city with a dog is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the cool stuff she knows about in SF. Check her out on Twitter @rose_garrett.