Living in a one-bedroom apartment in Colorado, Joyanna Sora had limited space for her dogs — Daisy, a pit bull mix, and Donner, a German shepherd-Labrador.
The complex offered an outdoor space for dogs, but it wasn't secure or maintained, Sora said. She wanted Daisy and Donner to have room to roam, but in a private setting.
While scrolling through TikTok one day, Sora, 26, found Sniffspot. The app that allows homeowners to rent out their backyards by the hour, for dogs and their people.
"You don't even have to have dogs to understand what it is to have dogs in an apartment," Sora said. "You can just imagine."
So she downloaded the app and started bringing her four-legged friends to fenced-in yards in her area. But last year, when Sora moved back to her native Centereach, she realized that her mother's backyard would make a great Sniffspot.
"Having my own dogs, I'm already cleaning up the backyard so it's not like I'm adding any additional work," said Sora, who works from home for the jewelry company Brilliant Earth.
There are currently 132 active Sniffspot hosts on Long Island, said David Adams, the company's CEO. He started Sniffspot in 2018. The idea was born out of Adams not being able to find a safe place to let his own dog explore off-leash.
Now, "we have over 15,000 active hosts all over the U.S.," said Adams. "In every single state, and several countries as well."
The requirements to become a Sniffspot host are straightforward: The area must be private, and there cannot be any people or other animals in the spot during the visit. So hosts like Sora, who have dogs of their own, would just have to keep them inside their homes and out of sight while guests are in the backyard.
"As long as the space is safe with no hazards, then you can host and share it with people," Adams said.
Long Islanders who live on the water have the potential for success as hosts, he added.
"We love spots that are by bodies of water," Adams said. "In the summer, those are the most popular spots, where people can go swimming with their dogs. Water access is a very popular amenity."
Guests must clean up after their dogs, and guests and hosts can review each other on the app. Hosts have the potential to earn up to $3,000 a month, Adams said.
"But we've had hosts earning up to $7,000 a month," he added. "It can be really lucrative. Those are for successful spots, and it's the kind of thing where you get what you put into it. But the sky's the limit in terms of what you can earn."
Hosts can set their own hourly rate. Sora said most of her guests rent out the yard for just an hour at a time. Hosts can also block out times when the yard will be unavailable to visitors.
"I charge $7 an hour, which I want to say is a little bit cheaper than other people charge," Sora said. Her house sits on 0.25 acre of land, and she offers her dog guests sweet potato treats and a selection of toys.
Since becoming a Sniffspot host in October, Sora estimates that she's made about $120 so far. But she's not doing it for the money — in fact, she invests what she makes back into backyard maintenance, she said.
"I like the idea of being able to give back, and I know people were really supportive of me when I was using it," she said. "I was like, 'Listen, I have two dogs, I just wanna make sure your fencing is secure or is there anything I should know.' People were always so kind, so I just enjoy being able to be that kind person for other people now."