Backyard Airbnbs Give Dog Owners A Private Leash-Free Space to Play

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

Hourly backyard rentals provide a perfect alternative to the crowded leash-free environment.

Photo Credit: Thomas Barrat/

Because I have three dogs of varying ages, I swear by leash-free parks. My younger one can head off at lunatic speed to burn off energy while my older two walk alongside me at a pace that works for them.

But what to do if you don’t have access to a decent dog park and you’ve got a pooch that needs a good run-round and some seriously active playtime? Well, for residents in a suburban community west of Toronto, Canada, they’ve jumped onto a growing bandwagon that turns their backyard into an Airbnb.

Throughout North America, the idea of offering up short-term green space "rental" has caught on for individual homeowners who possess a fully-fenced, decent-sized yard with loads of grass - versus fragile flowerbeds or pricey landscaping. And boy, are they reaping the benefits. Yes, the rent-a-yard concept has quickly become a welcome solution for apartment dwellers, for those living in townhomes with notoriously small patio spaces, as well as for those with smaller dogs who don’t want to feel overwhelmed at a leash-free park.

One such offering - SniffSpot - started in 2020 at the height of COVID when many area dog parks were temporarily closed. Homeowner Maria Miao had a decent half-acre lot and said she wasn’t really using it to its full potential. She opened it up to dog owners and decided to charge $5 per dog per hour. Ample time to toss a ball, throw a frisbee or give Rover a decent run-round to help him expend that excess energy. Across Canada and the United States, rates range up to $15 per dog per hour making it a nice payday for simply sharing your yard.

Finding most owners prefer to come after work or on weekends, Miao developed a schedule that allows her to max out the use of the space. So, from welcoming dogs and their owners one-on-one to hosting training sessions for pooches easily distracted in a multi-dog environment, the set-up has proven to be a win-win for all. In fact, pet owners with anxious or untrained pooches prefer private space to a leash-free park because it eliminates the potential for nasty interactions.

Picking up on the trend, Rose Pike felt her quarter-acre plot of yard was almost perfect… it just needed the energy of a dog to reach its full potential. Unable to care for one herself, she too began renting it out to area pet owners who, for any number of reasons, prefer using a more exclusive space to the less controlled leash-free environment.

Assuming stoop-and-scoop protocols are in place and noise is not an issue, this set-up is proving to be a perfect income earner for singles, seniors, or those with simply more land than they know what to do with. I wish!

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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