My dog had little interest in the agility course with hoops and poles to jump. He only wanted to play fetch with a squeaky, pink plastic hippo that he found in a bucket. But I imagined that if Ms. Rabon were located close enough for regular visits, I might put the effort into training him to do circus acts.
Sniffspot positions itself as an alternative to the local dog park or even the leisurely walk. For skittish or anxious dogs, playing with other dogs can be stressful and unpleasant. For a few dollars, a devoted pet owner can secure a private dog park and expose a bored pooch to new scents and experiences. “It’s very enriching for a dog to be in a new place,” Mr. Adams said.
The biggest challenge many users face is actually finding a Sniffspot to use. Availability is still inconsistent, and concentrated in Seattle, where the company started (a quarter of all bookings are in Washington State). Growth had “been purely word of mouth, organic growth, it’s just something that people need,” Mr. Adams said, adding. “To say these things take off like a rocket, that’s not actually how these things happen.”
But for dog owners like Genie Leslie, 34, a copywriter and screenwriter in Seattle, Sniffspot has become a regular routine. Ms. Leslie lives in a townhouse with no yardspace for her dog, Darcy, to run around. Darcy, a rescue, is reactive around people and other dogs, often making the afternoon walk a stressful grind.
Hanging out in someone else’s yard “is honestly more relaxing for us than being out with her on-leash, because we don’t have to manage her reactions,” Ms. Leslie said. Recently she found a 10-acre location about 40 minutes away. At $20 an hour, she and Darcy make the trek once a month for a two-hour visit. “She can run, play, test out some basic agility equipment, and even stick her paws in a creek,” she said.
Renting your property to an endless rotation of visitors is not without its pitfalls. Last year, one guest who booked Ms. Rabon’s property brought the dog — and seven human guests. The group blasted music, ordered delivery food and overstayed their visit by nearly an hour. When Ms. Rabon finally asked them to go, they left behind all their trash. “They were looking for a place to party,” she said.