wp header logo 255

Single mom made $3,000 in 11 months renting yard as Sniffspot dog run – Business Insider

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Emily Piehl, a 54-year-old elementary school STEM teacher from Antioch, Illinois, who started renting out her backyard on Sniffspot in 2023. The essay has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m a single mom living in Antioch, Illinois — between Milwaukee and Chicago — with two teenagers and a hound.
I’ve been teaching for a long time and earn a decent amount of money, but the cost of living has increased. In the past, I’ve had some trouble paying bills. I don’t have a spouse or a roommate, so I don’t have other income coming in — it’s just me and my kids.
A little less than a year ago, I saw an ad on Facebook about hosting on Sniffspot. It’s an app that helps homeowners in renting out their yards as private dog parks. It’s a good option for dog owners with reactive pets or those who are uncomfortable with traditional dog parks.
After finding out more information about Sniffspot, I decided to clean up my backyard and give it a try.

I have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house. It has a large fenced backyard that’s about a quarter of an acre. There aren’t a lot of trees, making it a great spot for dogs to run around and have fun.
Since starting to rent out my yard last July, I’ve earned $3,000 so far. While it’s not a large amount of money, it covers nearly two mortgage payments. Additionally, it has allowed me to purchase new tires for my vehicle, handle bills, and recently, fund a two-night hotel stay for my kids and me to travel to Pennsylvania to visit my sick dad.
Before Sniffspot, these extra expenses would have really impacted my monthly budget.
Preparing my yard to host wasn’t difficult. I didn’t have to do any major tree trimming, just some cleaning up.
I added a patio umbrella, relocated a table to a specific area, placed cushions for chairs, and bought some dog toys. I probably spent around $200 — I didn’t put a lot of money into it.
There aren’t many Sniffspots in my area, but I have visitors often, even during the winter months.
Related stories
Sniffspot allows hosts to set their price, though they offer a recommended price. To determine my rate, I looked at similar Sniffspots within a 10- to0 15-mile radius. I settled on $10 per hour.
The company has a policy where, if guests bring additional dogs, they receive a 50% discount. A lot of my guests have two dogs, so if they come for an hour, they’re charged $15. Sinffspot takes out their fees, so I typically earn around $11.12.
I could charge more, but I don’t want to charge too much and not have people come.

When I started, the first visitors I had were two women I know, and my neighbor across the street.
Now, I have around six to eight regular visitors. Two of them have memberships and visit frequently, with one even coming twice a day or at least every day. Then there are others who come every once in a while. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot more returning guests.
The people who use my property are mainly in their 20s and 30s. While I’ve never asked them directly, I imagine many of them live in areas without fenced yards.
I typically don’t have any direct contact with guests. They just schedule through the app and notify me of their arrival.
I provide information on accessing the yard through the side gate, and then they have the space to themselves. If they have any questions, they can message me through the app, which makes everything convenient.
I’ve never felt uncomfortable with people in my yard. They’ve always been respectful of the property and clean up after themselves. I haven’t encountered any problems so far.
I had a guy visit a few times who had recently adopted a new puppy from a local rescue. He was working with a dog trainer because his dog would bark and lunge at people while walking.
The trainer suggested trying out a private dog park. He mentioned that the first time his dog was off the leash in my yard, it was his first time ever. It made me so happy.
It’s nice to peek out of my kitchen window and see all of the dogs running around and having fun.
I am a single parent, and I don’t have family in the area. For a long time, I’ve been trying to find ways to make extra money without having to do a lot of extra work. (I even considered driving for UberEats for a while.)
While there are other methods to make money, like renting out rooms in your homes, I prefer not to do so while my kids are at home.
Being on Sniffspot helps me have a little comfort. When I first started, my 17-year-old son told me, “That’s passive income, mom.” He’s right.
Hopefully, more and more people will learn about Sniffspot.
Read next
Jump to


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top