File under: Can’t Make This Stuff Up.
If I told you dogs could rent private backyards by the hour, you’d look at me like I sprouted extra heads and yet … there’s an app for that! Seriously. The app — and its accompanying business — operate on the premise that in the gig and sharing economy, anything can be leased for a buck.
And no, I’m not talking Buck the fictional dog of the north, but buck as in cold hard cash, dollars on the barrel … ranging from $4/hour to more than $30 per hour, per dog. And yes, even Buck-the-dog could probably frolic in a 4-acre pasture on a sheepdog farm in Carver ($10/hour), check out a “big open backyard perfect for dogs” in Brewster ($5/hour), or rent a kayak from a quarter-acre parcel abutting a lake in Pembroke ($5/hour + optional $20-$40 boat rental).
The business, Sniffspot, started in 2018 with a straightforward pitch: “Our hosts are locals that are renting their yards and private land to dog owners.”
This shares a lot in common with another sharing premise I wrote about previously: Swimply, which began renting backyard pools by the hour and now also rents tennis courts, back yards and any other type of private amenity you’d like to turn into a revenue-generating opportunity.
They both build on the Airbnb concept — if you own it, you can rent it out.
Unsurprisingly, Sniffspot began on the west coast, where founder David Adams wanted to find places to exercise his dogs beyond public dog parks and trails. For dogs and their humans, it promises, “Our dog parks are designed for the ultimate safe dog exercise. We provide distraction free dog time — our safe, private spaces help you minimize distractions or triggers and maximize time with your dog.”
For owners, it teases “Come share your yard to help dogs! Earn up to $1,500 per month.”
Sniffspot has built a national network of by-the-hour private puppy pit stops. If you’re on the road to New York, you and your furry friend can take a Connecticut romp break at “Cathy’s Fully Fenced Yard” ($7/hr) or Countryshire Unfenced Private Dog Park ($20/hour).
Doing a little California Dreaming? Pause for paws at Happy Trails Pup Play, a fully fenced acre available for $18/hour just off the 101 between San Jose and Gilroy. Or maybe if you’ve doing city time, a .2-acre fenced area “Oakland backyard for your doggy to run” might be just the thing at $10/dog/hour.
Reviews give the closest approximation of revenue and use. Happy Trails has 29 visitor reviews so presumably it has generated at least 29 x $18 — just north of $500 — for its owner, while the Oakland backyard has garnered 146 reviews and one might guess that an extra $1,460 helps with yard plantings and kibble.
Listings seem pretty evenly split between dog people who like to welcome other dog people (“I love dogs and am happy to share my space with them!”), dog people with add-on dog businesses (take agility training workshop, buy doggie ear cleaner, board your dog here etc.) and folks just looking to make a bonus buck of a backyard.
The ubiquity of smart phones, broadband and an acceptance of a digital marketplace for any and everything creates business ideas that sound fictional … like Sniffspot.
More: Brewster town meeting OKs dog park, bans hunting in Punkhorn
I feel as if I’m in an Evelyn Waugh novel (think: “The Loved One”) updated for 2022. Heck, I think I might try my hand at writing about life at “Fido’s Frolic” and the surreal experiences of canines and their human extras in what surely must be the fictional business of backyard dog rental.
Yet, a very serious question arises from the rent-anything model. When Airbnb launched, few expected it would spawn an investor-owned real estate business of unregulated hotel rooms displacing entire residential neighborhoods … no, it originally sounded like a warm and fuzzy people-to-people experience. Reality became something different.
What does it mean when a Swimply privately owned tennis court or lap pool becomes an hourly teaching rental with traffic coming and going in a residential neighborhood? Or when a Sniffspot backyard features birthday (puppy!) parties every Saturday, with a dozen canine and human attendees parking up and down the street?
More: Want to rent a place on the Cape this summer? Better act now.
But, but … the market cries out! And the inventors and innovators respond!
In a world where owning your own space has become increasingly impossible for many, the notion of creating options for dogs to scamper and chase Frisbees in a safe, fenced environment sounds compelling.
Giving dog-lovers a way to share their passion — and backyards — with other dogs and dog people while making a bit of extra money sounds compelling. Finding good doggie space and connecting with like-minded pup people while traveling sounds compelling. Using an app to tie it together — OK, that’s just so 2022.
File this under: Life in 21st Century.
Opinion: Can you believe it? Dogs can now rent backyards by the hour – Cape Cod Times
File under: Can’t Make This Stuff Up.