Enter Sniffspot. Founded in Seattle by David Adams, the burgeoning company is likened to an "Airbnb for dogs." Pup owners can rent out people’s backyards (or land) to use as their own private dog park for anywhere from 30 minutes to the whole day.
The hosts set the price; in Seattle you’re looking at around $5 to $20 per dog per hour, with each additional dog costing half the price of the first one. Dog owners have the chance to browse by features like fully fenced yards, locales with more than half an acre, and spots with no other pooches within hearing distance or sight. Hosts can also list additional offerings: drinking water, chairs, poop bags, hoses, swimming pools, balls and toys, you get the idea.
The concept may give gig-economy skeptics and non-dog owners alike pause at first, but it’s a long-awaited lifeline for those who have furry friends that don’t play well with dog parks. Adams says that since the beginning the concept was embraced by the reactive dog community, those who have Fidos that may not take so kindly to the presence of strangers of the canine variety.
It also makes sense for people who want larger, private spaces for their dogs based on negative dog park experiences they've had in the past. Apartment dweller Tekoah Long has rarely been to a dog park in two years since her shy dog, Ender, was antagonized by another dog when he was a puppy. When Long approached the owner, they became verbally aggressive toward her.
When she first visited a Sniffspot with Ender and a few of her friends who also had dogs, it was a “night and day difference. There was no stress from the randomness of the dog parks.”
Des Moines resident and longtime Sniffspot user Susan Dedinsky says she exclusively started using the service after her golden retriever, Cooper, was attacked on three separate occasions in her neighborhood while out on a walk. She adds that he’s always been jumpy and a little reactive, but using Sniffspot three to five times a week has noticeably lessened his anxiety.
Nikki T. of Seattle, who preferred not to have her last name published, uses it a couple times a month and likes how it provides a more controlled environment. One of her two rescue dogs has become increasingly dog selective as she’s gotten older, so Sniffspot is a great opportunity to introduce her to a few friends’ dogs in a less overwhelming setting.
The draw for apartment dwellers like Long is a no-brainer, but even people with fenced yards like Dedinsky and Tumey still consistently use the app. All three primarily commute to locations outside of their areas in favor of larger plots of land; farms and even forests in Arlington, Kent, and Sammamish are big draws across the board. Tumey turns the excursions into day trips and treks out to Bellingham or Blaine; Dedinsky drives 40 minutes to a farm in Enumclaw frequently.
The response has been a pleasant surprise for Adams. “I literally kind of did this just for my dogs, and I had no idea that so many people would want this.”