How This Family Turned Their Love of Dogs into a Money Maker

Rick and Lynn P., and their daughter Zoe, are dog lovers who knew Sniffspot was for them as soon as they heard about it. “In September of 2019 I saw a Sniffspot advertisement for property owners to become Sniffspot hosts,” Rick recalled. “Since Lynn and I both love dogs, we loved the idea of providing a safe and secure option for dog owners to let their dogs run free.” The couple, who work full-time; Lynn as an educator, and Rick as a computer technician onboard a ballistic missile submarine, money wasn’t the motivating factor behind hosting, but having some free time and a property suitable for entertaining dogs just made sense for the pair. 

Today, their family runs Run-Sniff-Run in their downtime, using their love for dogs and access to ample space to provide a service to their community, and earn extra cash in an easy way that comes naturally to them all. 

Worth the wait

Rick learned about Sniffspot in the fall of 2019, but it was several months before their spot took off. “I had signed up and kind of forgot about it. We didn't receive our first booking until March of 2020 because the booking requests from Sniffspot were going to my spam folder,” he explained. “When COVID hit, I had friends with dogs lamenting about how all the dog parks had shut down, and then I remembered I had signed up! Once that was fixed, the spot took off – our first month we had 30 bookings, now we're up to about 170 a month.” The technical setbacks, however, weren’t devastating to the family, as their expectations were low from the start and were quickly surpassed once guests started booking with them. “I’m not certain we had any real expectations when we started. If anything, we may have been more on the skeptical side,” he said. “However, our experience has been nothing short of amazing. Financially speaking, Sniffspot has completely surpassed our wildest expectations, and as far as the gig economy goes, this has been the best one we’ve tried. You really get out of it what you put in.”

While additional income is never a negative thing, the real benefit of hosting for Rick is the experience he’s able to provide for dogs and their guardians. “The real payoff is watching dogs who have never been off leash run with the biggest smiles on their faces. You can't help but smile when you see that,” he added. “I think the best thing about hosting is meeting all of our different guests and their dogs. In today's world it is so refreshing to meet people face to face and share a laugh or two.”

Setting up a successful spot 

Sometimes, a Sniffspot location takes off simply due to the location, other times it’s because the host offers amenities that no one near them does – whatever the case, every host finds a hosting style that works for them, and ultimately, their spot. “Meeting all the different people has been so fun,” said Lynn. For the couple, establishing a friendly connection with their guests is a goal they strive to achieve with every booking. “We believe strongly in meeting guests for the first time,” said Rick. “I know how awkward it must be for first time guests to show up on someone else's property and not know for certain where everything is at, if it’s OK if the dogs bark at horses or chickens, or if it is ok to use a hose. Our goal is to set the owner at ease from their first visit and make them as comfortable as their dogs are at our place.” 

Meeting guests for the first time isn’t only done to set visitors at ease and help people learn the layout of the land. For some hosts, ensuring that their guests are reading and abiding by their spot’s rules is easier said than done, especially if they prefer to take a more hands-off approach. For Rick and his family, the face-time with guests on their first visit is how and when he’s able to lay down his house rules. “We simply talk with them, and let them know that we like to observe camping rules,” he said, of the directions he gives guests for keeping his spot clean. “‘Pack out what you pack in,’ and we show them where to throw refuse away as well.” 

While many hosts don’t accommodate last-minute bookings, to stay in line with their own schedules and preferences, Rick and Lynn have found a way to keep things manageable while allowing for on the spot visits. “We keep a one-hour notice for bookings in place, this works well for us most times,” Rick said. “There are times however, that new guests book during the work week which makes it challenging to greet them and go over the property when we are both working full-time.” It’s this close working relationship with these guests that makes their spot so attractive to many, and he advises that anyone considering opening a Sniffspot of their own to consider what works for them, and selling that to their guests. “Be engaged with your spot and understand what strengths your spot has for different dogs,” he said. 

Regularly maintaining their spot is what Lynn credits at least some of their success to as well. “You have to think about everything, how everyone’s gonna feel safe and secure,” she said. “That’s the number one important thing for us.” For safety’s sake, the couple’s Sniffspot profile lets potential guests know that there is a small patch of fencing by their horses that isn’t reinforced with mesh, allowing dog owners to determine what’s best for their canine companions. 

Interested in hosting?

Learn more here about how your land can help dogs and you can earn up to $1,500 per month!

Creating a comfortable environment for everyone 

Once a visit is booked and everyone is brought up to speed, a guest’s dog is free to roam Rick and Lynn’s fully-fenced, four-acre spot. The space has been upgraded slightly to make for a more enjoyable experience for dogs, and a comfortable session for dog owners. “We’ve made several improvements to our spot. We moved a water faucet from outside the spot to inside it so guests could have easier access to the water for their dogs; either to drink or to rinse them off during the rainy or muddy season,” Rick explained. “We also put down about 10 yards of bark chips in high traffic areas to reduce the mud, and provide clean towels for every guest if they wish to wash off their dog. We added a Dog Waste Station, and a few times we opened our home for guests to use our bathroom.” 

“We get feedback from our guests and are constantly learning what needs to be improved,” Lynn added. “But I don’t think of it as a challenge, so much as a to-do list.” 

On occasion, Rick and Lynn have allowed visitors to host birthday parties for their dogs, which come with additional visitors not often seen on a typical visit. We’ve accommodated numerous dog birthday parties which would often have more people in attendance than guests,” he said. “We work with the guest to ensure all of their guests know where to park and how to access the property.” Going above and beyond in such ways has resulted in multiple repeat visitors, and has made for the most enjoyable experience possible, for Sniffspot guests, their dogs, and the host family. 

Of course, keeping a spot comfortable doesn’t just end with guests and their dogs – the family’s own pets and routines are strongly considered as well. “We have a fair number of guests who request our dogs go out and play, but we also make sure our dogs are in the house which is a fair distance from the spot,” he added. 

A bright future ahead 

With things exceeding their expectations and everything running smoothly, Rick and Lynn plan to continue doing more of the same when thinking of their Sniffspot location. Having found so much success over the last year and a half, the pair are considering new ways to direct the additional flow of income. “At first it was going to be used for the Christmas fund, but the success of the spot has made us re-evaluate where we want to direct that income,” Rick said. “We don’t have huge plans, but aim to keep iteratively getting the spot better.” 

In the meantime, the family will keep making memories using the space they call home and their love for dogs that will stay with them for years to come. “I remember a guest whose dog ran down to the pond, which was drying up and only a huge mud pit. He dove in and stayed the entire hour playing in the mud,” Rick recalled. “The owner had to walk into the mud to get their dog out and both of them were covered, they both had such a blast! And the other time a guest brought their roommate to hang out with while letting the dog run. I looked into the bottom of the field and I saw a person at the bottom of the field on a mat in some yoga pose. I told her that she may be the first person ever to do yoga on the property, and she replied ‘this place is so relaxing I couldn't help but to do yoga.’”

Interested in hosting?

Learn more here about how your land can help dogs and you can earn up to $1,500 per month!