I'm a single mom who rents my backyard to dog owners. I earned $3,000 in 11 months to help me pay bills.

I’m a single mom living in Antioch, Illinois, situated between Milwaukee and Chicago, with two teenagers and a hound. Despite teaching for several years and earning a decent salary, the rising cost of living has posed financial challenges. Without a spouse or roommate, my income solely supports me and my children. Almost a year ago, I came across an ad on Facebook for Sniffspot, an app that allows homeowners to rent out their yards as private dog parks. This service caters to dog owners with reactive pets or those who prefer to avoid traditional dog parks.

Intrigued by Sniffspot, I decided to clean up my backyard and give it a shot. My three-bedroom, two-bathroom house includes a large fenced backyard, approximately a quarter of an acre, making it an ideal space for dogs to run and play. Since I began hosting last July, I’ve earned around $3,000, which covers nearly two mortgage payments. This extra income has also enabled me to purchase new tires for my vehicle, pay bills, and recently fund a two-night trip to Pennsylvania with my children to visit my ill father. Without Sniffspot, these additional expenses would have strained my monthly budget.

Preparing my yard for hosting wasn’t difficult. I did some basic clean-up, added a patio umbrella, moved a table to a specific area, placed chair cushions, and bought a few dog toys, spending about $200 in total. Although there are few Sniffspots in my area, I frequently have visitors, even during the winter. Sniffspot allows hosts to set their own rates, though they recommend a price. After researching similar Sniffspots within a 10 to 15-mile radius, I set my rate at $10 per hour. Guests bringing additional dogs pay a 50% discount, so for an hour-long visit with two dogs, they are charged $15, from which I typically earn around $11.12 after Sniffspot's fees.

Initially, my first guests were two women I know and my neighbor across the street. Now, I have about six to eight regular visitors, including two members who visit frequently, and several others who come occasionally. Recently, more guests have returned to use my yard again. Most of my visitors are in their 20s and 30s, likely living in areas without fenced yards.

I generally have minimal contact with visitors. They schedule through the app and notify me of their arrival. I provide instructions for accessing the yard through the side gate, and they enjoy the space on their own. Communication through the app makes the process convenient, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable with people in my yard. Guests have always been respectful and cleaned up after themselves.

One memorable visitor was a man who had adopted a new puppy from a local rescue and was working with a trainer due to the dog’s reactive behavior. The trainer suggested using a private dog park, and the man mentioned that his dog’s first off-leash experience was in my yard. It brought me great joy to see the dog enjoying the space.

The passive income from Sniffspot has been a blessing. As a single parent without family nearby, finding ways to earn extra money without much additional work has been a priority. While there are other ways to generate income, such as renting out rooms, I prefer not to do so while my kids are at home. Sniffspot offers me some financial comfort, and my 17-year-old son aptly described it as passive income. I hope more people will learn about Sniffspot and benefit from it, as I have.  

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