The Best Pet Spots and Dog Parks in San Francisco

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Have you ever heard that there are more dogs in San Francisco than there are children? According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, it's no legend. There actually are more dogs in the city than kids! So it only makes sense that you're looking for dog parks in San Francisco to bring your furry friend for some fun and socialization. On top of all the parks, you can bring your pet to the beach or to one of the many popular events for dogs throughout the city. With a city that's over 46 square miles, it's impossible to know where to go first. Here are some of the best San Francisco dog parks, places and events to check out with your dog, but let's start with a quick guide on San Francisco's pet laws.

San Francisco Pet Laws

While you're enjoying exploring San Francisco with your dog, don't forget that there are citywide policies that must be followed at all times. Here are some of the most important San Francisco pet laws from San Francisco Recreation & Parks to keep in mind:

  • Dogs over 4 months old must have a dog license and rabies vaccination.
  • All dogs must be controlled at all times.
  • Anyone walking their dog must carry proper disposal tools to remove any dog droppings.
  • All dog droppings must be picked up.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times, except when in designated off-leash areas.

The city also requests all pet handlers to help keep barking at a minimum, prevent digging and most importantly, never leave their pets unattended. Dog walkers must also keep the number of dogs they walk to nine or fewer at a particular time.

So where will you begin? Keep reading to find out some great local spots for you and your dog!

Alamo Square

With the limited outdoor space in the city, Emi T., a local dog walker, is always looking for new places to take the dogs in her care. She says, "One of my favorite places to go walking with our furry friends is Alamo Square in the Western Addition. Most people know this area when referencing the Painted Ladies or the intro segment of the TV show 'Full House.' What I love about this park is there are designated areas for dogs to be both on-leash and off-leash. This is important so that all dogs and their temperaments are able to safely coexist in one shared outdoor space. The view isn't too shabby, either!"

Bernal Heights Park

Looking for a park with the feel of a hiking experience? Check out Bernal Height Park. According to San Francisco Recreation & Parks, Bernal Hill offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Bruno Mountain, San Francisco Bay, the hills of the East Bay and downtown. The park is full of wildlife like lizards, snakes and gophers, so be sure to keep a close eye on your pup if he likes to chase the local critters. The San Francisco Parks Department recommends reading up on dog and coyote safety from Project Coyote in case you glimpse one of these rare and beautiful animals.

Two dogs on the beach at sunset

Crissy Field Park

If you have a dog who's part surfer, Crissy Field Park is the perfect place to spend your time with your pet. He'll be able to swim in the water and dig in the sand. What more could a dog ask for? Don't forget about your own enjoyment, either. While your puppy's enjoying his surf and sand time, you'll soak up a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Marin County.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy suggests visiting at low tide to enjoy the widest possible area of beach. Don't worry too much about your pet getting too sandy after fun in the water and a roll on the sand. There's even a dog rinse station to use before you leave.

Fort Funston

Home to the Fort Funston Native Plant Nursery and featuring over 200 foot high sandy bluffs, this location is a top spot for dogs who like to be off leash, writes the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. "Fort Funston is my pup's very favorite place," says Kathryn V., "because it's off-leash and includes trails as well as a beach. There are lots of other dogs to play with, but also lots of open space for pups that don't want to be so bothered by others."

Glen Canyon Park

Are you and your dog outdoor adventurers? Glen Canyon Park is one of the best dog parks in San Francisco if you both share a love for the outdoors. San Francisco Recreation & Parks notes that the park encompasses 60 acres of wilderness formerly known as the San Miguel Hills and provides an important habitat for wildlife. It also has tennis courts, a recreation center and a ball park, which makes it the perfect place to bring your family or friends for the afternoon. While pets must be kept on leash, there are numerous trails and open spaces to explore.

Dachshund with blue bowtie walking in street parade

Saturday Is Pet Day

San Francisco also hosts a bunch of regular pet meet-ups and events. Alex T.'s favorite event to bring her furry friend is the San Francisco Small Dog Beach Walk. She says, "There is a small dog parade at the beach on Saturdays at 10 on Ocean Beach. I highly recommend bringing a trash bag so you can do a beach cleanup while you walk your dog. On sunny days there are over 100 dogs at the beach. It's so fun and cute! I can't wait to take my pup again."

This event runs weekly, rain or shine, and is limited to small dogs under 20 pounds. Dogs must be licensed and vaccinated. Large dogs are allowed on the beach at the same time, but organizers request they not walk in the parade so as not to scare some of the smaller dogs who want to socialize and get some exercise.

Not a dog parent? First Caturdays at Dolores Park happens monthly at Mission Dolores Park for cat parents and neighborhood cat fans alike. Fun Cheap San Francisco writes that this monthly gathering welcomes cats on leashes and kitties who just "come to the park in their pet carriers to listen to the birds sing."

No matter where you bring your beloved pet first, the best dog parks in San Francisco are where you know you'll have a great time together.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at

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