Follow the recommended guidelines for keeping your dog confined to ensure good housetraining and alone time training.  This will give you time to dog-proof your home. Pay attention to the following list of common hazards.

Adding a new dog to a home with a resident dog can be great fun and offers both your family and your dog extra companionship. However, dogs need time to build relationships. The more quarrel-free you can keep the early stages of the sibling relationship the stronger it will be—and yet quarrels can still easily happen. That’s why it’s crucial to proceed slowly, even if it seems as though the dogs are getting along without any problems.

Getting Ready

Preparation is half the battle. Before you bring your new dog home, be sure to:

Go shopping for supplies. Your new dog needs his own water and food bowl, dog bed, and dog toys. Don’t expect him to share, not until he has known his sibling for a long time.

Set the stage. Pick up all toys, chews, bones, food bowls, and the resident dog’s favorite items. When dogs are creating a relationship these items may cause rivalry. (They can be introduced after a couple of weeks.)

Provide each dog with private space. Give your new dog his own confinement area. Furnish a spare room, crate, or dog-proofed enclosed area with his food, water, toys, and bed. The resident dog is not allowed in this area.

Introducing the Dogs

First meeting. The first introduction should happen on neutral ground outside your house and yard, for example on a neighborhood street or in a park. Allow the two dogs to sniff each other briefly—two to three seconds—then call them away and praise them with treats. Next, take a short walk in the neighborhood and let them play off leash if appropriate.

Inside the house. The first time the two dogs are inside your house together, keep them both on leash and keep the introduction short, around five minutes.

Building the Relationship

The length of this phase varies from one “sibling pair” to another. Carefully watch both dogs’ body language for clues before you increase their time together. Until then, follow these guidelines:


Learn about various types of collars and leashes to find the best fit for your dog.

Nonverbal communication fascinates most of us animal lovers, and who can blame us for wanting to understand our furry friends? But reading the body language of another species is quite a challenge. Most of us try to translate facial expressions, body postures, tail positions, and other details into signals that make sense in human terms—a strategy that often fails.

Here’s an overview that can help you learn to read your dog’s signals. Look for the clues provided by the look in her eyes, the tone of her voice, the position of her ears and body, and the motion of her tail.

And remember to take into account your dog’s entire body and the situation she’s in—context is everything.


Bark                Territorial call, attention-seeking, anxiety, social needs, or aggression

Whine              Care soliciting, puppies, pain, or frustration

Howl                To Some breeds, this may be the vocal equivalent of marking

Growl              Aggression or distance-increasing signal

Facial Expression

Eyes                Pupils dilated = Nervous, playful, aroused

Ears*              Forward = Alert, interested, happy, relaxed

Flat, backward, sideways = Fearful, frightened, irritable

Swiveling = Attentive, listening to every little sound, alert, vigilant

Mouth            Closed = Relaxed

Open with relaxed lips = Happy, excited

Open tight and showing teeth = Fearful, aggressive

Lip curl or lifting, vertical or horizontal = Defensive aggression

Submissive grin = Appeasement behavior

*Depends on the breed’s natural ear position

Body Language (posture)

Happy and content dog = Approaching with relaxed body, sitting or lying down, eyes soft, pupils moderately dilated, tail softly wagging or straight, ears forward.

Playful dog = Bouncy body movements, might be bowing front body and sticking hind end up (called playbow).

Nervous, insecure, fearful dog = Ears sideways or back, pupils dilated, tail low or tucked between legs, low body posture, tense, wants to hide, turns away, does not accept treats, lip licking, yawning, hyper vigilant, moving slowly, stalling, panting, or pacing.

Frightened, startled dog = Stiff or lowered body posture, ears back and flat against head, fur standing straight on back, tail erect or low, hyper vigilant, may growl, bark, or snarl.

Fearful, aggressive dog = Stands stiff or crouches, leaning body position, ears flattened, tail between legs or up, pupils dilated, panting, lip licking, yawning, may loudly growl, bark, or snarl.

Aggressive dog on the offensive = Ears forward, forward-leaning body position, tail hair bristling or fur standing straight on back, hard stare or growl, bark and snarl or snap.

Alphabetical Listing of San Francisco Dog Parks












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