Carlson Dog Park

4700 Buena Vista Dr and Mission Ave
(next to Mt Rubidoux Park)
Riverside, CA
Operating Hours:
Managed By:
City of Riverside
Days Closed:
Park Size:
Type of Park:
Other Notes:

This dog park has a separate small dog area, drinking water, benches, a shade tree, some agility equipment, lighting, and grass.

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Jenny C's picture
Bark Pack

Love the agility ring

Jenny C's picture
Great dog park

One if the nicest dog parks I've taken my mini-Aussie to. It's grassy and big and has individual parks for small dogs, large dogs, puppies, and agility training. It is also very well maintained. Our only complaint was that there weren't very many dogs there, although it was 1:00 p.m. on a weekday.

Atelby's picture
Regular visitor

I have been taking my two dogs to this park on a weekly basis for over one year now. I have met a couple of people that weren't very sociable, but the majority of people I have encountered are very friendly. You do get some odd ducks that do not appear to understand dog behavior very well and think other dogs are being mean to theirs when they try to play, but my guess is that these people have never owned dogs before and it is a learning process for them.

I love going to the park because the dogs all seem so happy to be there playing with their friends. I have seen numerous tiffs, but most of the time it is due to dogs lining each other out, and sometimes there is a lot of noise and show. I have never seen a serious fight where blood has been drawn, but I have heard about a few from other people (whether this is true or not, I can't say for sure, but I would imagine it does happen). Most owners appear to be responsible, stepping in to stop a fight as soon as they see one brewing, but there are times when people are chatting and do not notice what is going on around them. If a dog appears to be posturing around mine and trying to start a fight, and no one gets up to claim the dog, then I attempt to diffuse the situation by talking nicely, which usually distracts them long enough that I can move to another area. Like people, dogs sometimes do not like each other for no apparent reason, but moving to another area usually fixes the problem because there is plenty of space where you can go off by yourself (except at times during the summer, when it can be especially busy in the evening after a hot day).

There are actually four dog areas at this park; one for puppies, one for small dogs, one for large dogs, and one that has agility equipment in it, with the busiest part being the large dog section. There are two regular benches and two picnic benches in the large dog area, which is not nearly enough seating room in the summer when it is busy. In the summer, you will find many people sitting in the grassy section closest to the river bottom, as it is cooler there because of the breeze coming off of the water. Make sure to take some bug repellant in the summer though, as the mosquitoes can be a little vicious, not to mention the fleas. Also, the first picnic bench in the large dog park is known to drop large ants, so don't be surprised if you find them climbing in your hair after sitting under the shade of the tree! In the summer, people also bring their own fold-up chairs or blankets to sit on, which can be a lot of fun because it sometimes seems like a large picnic (minus food, of course). Speaking of food, people have brought in treats for their dogs. If you should bring treats in your pocket or purse, don't be surprised if you end up having a herd of other dogs following you. Also, if you start giving dogs treats, watch out for your fingers because some dogs do not have manners, such as one of mine! To be on the safe side, it is always best to ask if it is okay to give an unknown dog a treat, just in case caution should be taken and that the animal does not have a health issue where it should not receive them. I have never seen humans eating food in the dog park, which is a good thing because some dogs are known to have food aggression. Back to the dog areas and seating; the small dog area also has one picnic bench. The area is not that large, so it does not normally get busy. The puppy and agility areas do not have any benches. There are water fountains for the dogs and humans in the small and large dog areas. After the dogs have been there a couple of times, they get smart and know right where to go for water. I only wish the park developers had the forethought to put something in to automate the water fountain for the dogs so that they did not have to wait for a human to hold the button!

In response to the other person's post regarding the dog that died of parvo after visiting the park... If you are going to take your dog to any public place on a regular basis, make sure it has all important vaccinations first. Even though there is a puppy area, puppies should not be brought to the park until they have completed their final series of puppy vaccines. Also, if you have a puppy at home that has not completed its course of vaccines, you will want to make sure that you do not take any diseases home on the bottom of your shoes if you should visit the park with another dog. As long as your dog has been properly vaccinated before going to the park (at LEAST two weeks prior to your visit), you do not need to worry about it dying from parvo or getting seriously ill from any of the other major diseases that dogs might share. Kennel cough is a big one that hits the park every year. Kennel cough is similar to the human cold, so it is not possible to create a vaccine for every strain, but the kennel cough vaccination (Bordetella) does help eliminate the severity and prevention of symptoms. Kennel cough can go away on its own if not treated, but it hangs on for a long time. If your dog has never been vaccinated for kennel cough, it can also turn into pneumonia if symptoms become severe and are not treated.

There are many times when people bring their small dogs into the large dog area, which does not appear to be a problem for the people who have large dogs. However, a word of warning to people who plan to take small dogs into the large dog area -- please, keep an eye on them to ensure they do not end up in a bad situation. Even though all of the dogs appear to be friendly and just want to play, larger dogs like chasing smaller dogs, which can turn into a pack situation quickly. I try to steer away from going on the weekends because that seems to be when most people bring their dogs for their first visit, which can cause some unexpected situations when the dogs are not friendly or have not been socialized enough.

My biggest beef about the park are parents who take their children, thinking they can entertain both their dogs and kids at the same time. While this can be true, I am talking about the unruly kids that run around screaming, tormenting dogs, climbing trees, causing damage, etc. My worry is that one of these days a child will get bitten by a dog, possibly mine, as some dogs do not like to be chased and have a fear of children. I wonder who will get in trouble when a dog does finally bite a child? On a couple of occasions, I have seen babies being watched by other children, which should never happen because even the nicest dog might get a little too curious. The worst-case scenario is when a parent leaves a child unattended at the park, as you never know what could happen. One night, a parent even left kids at the park while taking bikes home in his truck. The children were left stranded when the park ranger showed up to close the gate at around 9 p.m., but thankfully, someone had a cell phone so that the kids could call home and explain the situation, and we stayed with them until the parent came back.

Another beef I have are the people who do not clean up after their dogs. While I know picking up dog poop is something none of us enjoy, it is especially disgusting when you accidentally step in a pile because it manages to get into every crevice of your shoe. There are many bag stations situated around all of the dog areas so that pick-up bags are handy, along wih nearby trash cans. The bags are nicely scented, which makes the job of cleanup seem a little less horrible. Most people are responsible, but there are still a number of people who turn their heads away, pretending not to notice when their dogs need picking up after. As a courtesy, many of the "regulars" will point out to others when their dog needs picking up after, which has caused a few fights because people new to the park think they are being called out or picked on.

The park has had some problems with water pipes leaking, causing the ground to be very soggy at times, but they are currently working on fixing the broken pipes. There is also a sewage system that runs under the park and a sewage lid about 20 feet from the entrance of the big dog area, which the dogs love to roll all over because of the smell. Thankfully, the smell is not transferred to the dogs, as they seem to enjoy rolling on the lid so much!

There is now a sign posted in the parking area, stating that the park closes one-half hour after sunset. However, the park ranger generally shows up to lock the main gate from anywhere around 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. The park ranger will most likely begin showing up earlier now that it is getting dark quicker, but I expect he will not lock the gates until at least one hour after sunset, as he has many other parks to close as well (since people park in the main lot to go hiking and biking, etc., I believe this is one of the last parks out of around 17 that he has to close each day--from what a past employee told me).

The park is well lit when the timers are set properly on the lights, which they are currently. However, there are times of the year when the lights go out around 30 minutes after dark, leaving only one main light on inside the park. The park can be very creepy at night because the river bed runs directly next to it, where there are a lot of homeless people, prostitutes, drug dealers, etc. I would advise anyone planning on staying after dark not to go alone, or at least make sure there are other people in the park while you are there.

Unfortunately, there are no restrooms, which would be very nice. I think the city deliberately avoided putting in restrooms because of all of the homeless people, thinking they would just be creating another bad situation. If you need a restroom, there is one two blocks down when you turn right upon exiting the park (on right side of road). The restaurant is called the Taco Station, and they will give you a key to their outside restroom (I usually buy something when I ask for the key). There are also restrooms a couple of blocks down when you turn left upon exiting, with one, I believe, being Bakers (on left side of road). If you happen to be at the park during daylight and feel like taking a long walk to find a restroom, you can go to Fairmont Park via the bike trail that runs alongside the river bed (I cannot remember for sure right now, but I believe it is something like a seven-mile walk). When exiting the enclosed dog park area, turn right toward the back of the parking lot. Go through the gate that leads to the paved trail, and turn right. Once you pass under the bridge overpass, turn right where you see the paved trail divides (there should be a sign here, telling you how far it is to Fairmont Park). Follow the paved trail until it ends, and turn right to find the closest bathroom, which will be a ways down by the water/grassy area. Again, warning to women who like to jog and walk alone; please, make sure you have someone with you when taking this route, even during daylight. It can be a creepy place when walking to Fairmont Park along the paved trail, where there are many trees and bushy areas shielding anyone meaning to do harm. In the time I have been going to the park, there has been at least one attempted rape that I know of, where a guy tried to accost a woman at 8:30 a.m. when she was walking in a well-populated area with her baby in a stroller. Thankfully, her screams made him run away before he did her or the baby any harm! About four months ago, they found a man's car parked in the lot, but they still to this day have not found out what happened to him.

All-in-all, I think this park is great, and I am happy that I have a place to take my dogs so that they can work off all of their excess energy. My dogs are not the kind that like to roll around and play with other dogs and tend to keep to themselves by running after a ball, but they enjoy when the other dogs join in the fun by chasing them. If you see two or more dogs chasing a ball in the evening, where one barks a lot and another runs after your dog while making a tazmanian devil sound, that will most likely be me. I always look forward to meeting new dogs and people and hope to see you there sometime! :-)

lucky1bullybreed's picture
carlson park

have taken my dogs there but last time there we seen a sign in the bulletien board about a dog who died from parvo that had all its shots and had been there one time. so we have ceased going there. park isnt bad though but dont wanna risk the safety of my dogs. aside from that i would say it be nice if they had a few more seats and some restrooms also and not have a giant mud pit after they wash down the sidewalks. only park we have been too that people are not extremly ignorant nor anti bully breeds as other parks i have been too and havent encountred any aggressive dogs there.

lucky1bullybreed's picture
carlson park

have taken my dogs there but last time there we seen a sign in the bulletien board about a dog who died from parvo that had all its shots and had been there one time. so we have ceased going there. park isnt bad though but dont wanna risk the safety of my dogs. aside from that i would say it be nice if they had a few more seats and some restrooms also and not have a giant mud pit after they wash down the sidewalks. only park we have been too that people are not extremly ignorant nor anti bully breeds as other parks i have been too and havent encountred any aggressive dogs there.

Visitor's picture
Best dog park I've been too

This is hands down the best dog park I have been to. It was recently redone so it is very nice, always green . Can get some puddles after rainy days but otherwise good. Park is pretty big. There is also a small dog/puppy area . I used to live in Orange County and aside from the dog beach in Huntington Beach there is nothing that compares to this park. People are friend, dogs are non-aggressive . Park is very well lit at night until 9pm I think. Only set back I would say is the lack of seating, other than that 10/10 .

USAFwife's picture
1st timer

Our Mastiff mix puppy just got her final shots and so we took her to the park to start socializing her with other dogs...There is a section for small dog, puppies and large dogs. We went two days in a row and both times everyone that was there was super friendly and very tolerant of our puppy who is still learning her manners. We look forward to many more visits!

huckleberry's picture

This dog park is re-opened after being redone.