25/09/2022

Pet Care

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Sniffspot Private Dog Parks: An Option For Traveling Dogs | GoPetFriendly


For people who travel with their pets, finding a safe place where dogs can burn off some energy is a challenge. The doggy dynamics at local dog parks are a gamble. And letting dogs run off-leash in an unfenced area far away from home is risky. Sniffspot private dog parks could provide a solution!

Not every dog has access to their own backyard playground, and that’s especially true when you’re traveling together! For dogs who don’t enjoy mixing it up with pups they don’t know at local dog parks, Sniffspot private dog parks could be the perfect place to ditch the leash and have a run.

Jack Russell Parson Terrier Dog running in a Sniffspot private dog park

 

What Is Sniffspot?

Sniffspot is a website where pet owners can find safe, private, off-leash places they can rent by the hour for their pups to play. Pairing property owners who have available open spaces with pet people looking to provide their pups with fun new experiences, Sniffspot’s owner, David Abram, calls it the “Air BnB for dogs.” 

Using the Sniffspot search tool, pet owners can see photos and review the amenities to ensure the spot they choose is a good match for their dog. The site also has a handy filter, allowing users to find only sites with the features most important to them. Parks that are suitable for small dogs, or have swimming or hiking trails, for example. And people who use Sniffspot private dog parks can write reviews, providing useful feedback for future potential users.

Black dog running at a Sniffspot private off-leash dog park
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

When you find a park you like, booking it on the site is easy! 

Unlike other private dog parks that charge monthly or annual fees, with Sniffspot you pay only for the time you and your dog visit a park. Hourly rates range from $3 to $20 per dog (some hosts offer discounts for multiple dogs), and you’re guaranteed no other dogs will be there.

Two small dogs in blue harnesses on a leash in the desert at a Sniffspot private off-leash dog park
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

 

Features Of Sniffspot Private Dog Parks

So now we all want to know what these Sniffspot private dog parks look like, right? We’re used to local dog parks, complete with a grassy (if lucky) or muddy (if not) fenced areas. A dispenser for waste bags makes us feel lucky. Throw in fresh water and shade, and we feel like we’ve come across a gem!

The amenities for Sniffspot private dog parks vary depending on what the host wants to offer. But they’re generally nicer than the average public dog park.

I spoke to Cathy Benedict, host of Peaceful Acres in Leesburg, Virginia. Her Sniffspot park is completely enclosed with a six-foot privacy fence and includes a private entrance, double gate, wading areas for small and large dogs, and benches for people who get worn out before their pups. There is plenty of shade, kennels with fans for pups who need a break, and 20% of her income goes to support a local pet charity.

Cathy even has a lavender garden near the gate to her park. Pups that wander through after exploring the yard will smell sweet when they get back to the car. 

Photo courtesy of Cathy Benedict

Sniffspot owner Abram says that doggy water parks (also known at full-sized swimming pools) are popular amenities. You can also find parks with hiking trails, agility equipment, or other amenities using Sniffspot’s helpful filters.

One black and one white dog stand at the edge of a pond at a Sniffspot private off-leash dog park
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

 

How Sniffspot Can Help Pet Travelers

Have you ever urged your dog to “hurry up” on a postage stamp-sized grassy spot. Behind a fast food restaurant? Along a busy highway? 

Do you travel with a dog who does poorly around strangers or other dogs? 

Or maybe you just want to reward your very good boy for never complaining while you stroll historic districts and linger over your meal on a dog friendly patio? 

Wouldn’t you love to find a spot to unhook your dog’s leash and relax while he sniffs, runs, and chases his ball?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you already see the benefits private, off-leash dog parks provide to travelers with dogs. 

Chocolate Labrador Dog laying in the wet grass with an orange ball

 

Safe Place To Get Off The Road

On long road trips, I always try to get my dogs (and myself) out of the car about every two hours. That usually means too many stops at gas station convenience stores and fast food chains. And too many calories for the humans, and not enough play time for the pups. 

If you’d like to plan a better experience for you all, set your road trip route, and then look for Sniffspot private dog parks along the way. Line up your reservations in advance, or play it by ear. Some hosts permit reservations with little notice, so you can even reserve space from the road.

READ MORE ⇒ Planning A Pet Friendly Road Trip

African American man standing in front of house with a sign marking a  Sniffspot private off-leash dog park
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

 

Playgrounds For Reactive Dogs

Traveling with a reactive dog? Yes, it is possible. But it brings its own challenges. 

A private off-leash dog park is a great way to give your traveling pup a break from being constantly tethered to you. And you won’t have to worry about encounters with other dogs.

 Sniffspot has a filter for parks not in sight of other dogs or people. Read the description carefully so the park you reserve is a good fit for your reactive pup.

And take advantage of the ability to email the host if you have concerns about your dog’s visit.

Buster the German Shepherd dog laying on a blanket with a squeaky ball

 

Enriching Fun For Any Traveling Dog

Face it, our travel plans are not always as interesting for our dogs as they are for us. My dog, Honey, was a good traveler. She was willing to follow me to pet friendly museums or quietly wait while I enjoyed a drink at a dog-welcoming brewery or winery.

But after a full day of being on her best behavior, even a perfect doggy angel deserves to sniff, run zoomies, or splash in a pool. And you’ll have a ball watching your pup bounce around exploring a new place.

Sniffspot host Cathy Benedict reminded me that her off-leash dog park in Loudon County, Virginia was near pet friendly vineyards and breweries. (Click the link to find them on GoPetFriendly.)

With over 5,000 private dog parks already on Sniffspot, you’ll likely find one near your favorite vacation spots. (Hot tip: Currently, the southern United States has a majority of Sniffspot parks. Popular vacation destinations, Florida and Texas, are especially well represented). 

Are you ready to try Sniffspot? Read on for tips to help you find the best private, off-leash dog park for your pup.

A large gold dog and small black dog seen through a white, painted tire at a Sniffspot private off-leash dog park
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

 

Get The Most From Your Sniffspot Experience

Pet travelers looking for private off-leash dog parks on Sniffspot have special needs. These insider tips will help you get the most from your visit.

Searching For Parks

The default for the Sniffspot search tool is Kansas. Change the location to find off-leash dog parks by typing a city and state into the search bar on the upper left-hand side of the website.

On the website, it might be easier to move the map to the area you’re searching with the cursor. That’s also a good way to scan your planned route for dog park stops. 

Sniffspot also has an app, which allows you to use your phone’s GPS to locate parks nearby. 

On both the website and the app, Top Spots (with lots of high ratings and reviews) will appear at the top. 

Sniffspot private off-leash dog park app
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

 

Selecting The Perfect Park

The site does well at informing prospective users about features that could be an issue for some dogs. 

For example, you can see what percentage of visitors agreed that the fence was secure without gaps. Or how many people heard or saw people, dogs, or other animals while visiting the site, which is important if your dog is triggered by such things.

Click on the information bubble near each feature for the host’s explanation of their answers. In that space you’ll find the type of farm animals you might encounter near the off-leash dog park area, or whether resident dogs will be inside the home when you visit the yard. 

You can also click on the rules — they vary for every location. Some hosts ask to meet guests for their first visit. Others do not interact with guests outside the app. This is crucial information for anyone whose dog is uncomfortable being approached by a stranger!

The rule section also states how far in advance you need to book your visit.

Finally, read the reviews carefully. They contain information to help you determine whether the park is the right fit for your dog. And if you have any additional questions or concerns, contact the host directly before booking.

A large brown dog stands in high weeds at a Sniffspot private off-leash dog park
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

 

Book Your Visit

Click the “Book Now” button, to bring up a calendar and times available to schedule. The site asks you to affirm that your dogs are up-to-date on vaccinations or titers and taking flea and heartworm preventives. 

You can also leave a note for the host with your reservation. 

Your credit card is charged when you enter your payment information. If you need to cancel, doing so at least 2 hours before your reservation entitles you to a refund.

Following booking, you will get a welcome email with details to help you find the spot, parking, etc.

Brindle dog in the back seat of a car on a cross country road trip

 

Arriving At The Park

First, it’s important to arrive on time. Bookings are scheduled with a 30-minute buffer between reservations to avoid unhappy meetings. Arriving and leaving on time makes you a good dog park citizen.

Then, check out the space before letting your dogs out of your car. 

A group of 5 large dogs stand at a Sniffspot private off-leash dog park
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

Even if the description says the host will have their dogs inside when you arrive, mistakes happen. And you’ll want to be sure the fence is actually secure for your dog—especially if you have a jumper or other kind of escape artist.

If everything looks good, bring your leashed dog(s) to the play area. Make sure to secure the gate behind you. 

 Fun At The Park

Finally, it’s time to have a blast! Some of the hosts leave treats and toys. Make sure to only use what has been left for you, and leave it in the same condition you found it.

 I don’t need to remind you to pick up after your pup, right? I thought not. But be prepared to pack out any trash. 

A white bully dog in a green harness sits with a ball in her mouth next to a house
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

 

After Your Visit

If you found the reviews on the site helpful, then pay it forward. Leave a note about your experience to help your host and future visitors.

A woman and two large, golden dogs on leash walk away from the camera.
Photo courtesy of Sniffspot

Safe, Off-Leash, Private Dog Parks

I have had three reactive dogs in the past. One was also a hound mix who would follow a scent to the ends of the earth, making her a terrible flight risk. 

 Because I lived in a city with a small yard, my first dogs never had the opportunity to stretch their legs and sniff untethered to me. 

If Sniffspot private dog parks had been available then, Agatha, Christie, and Shadow would have loved them. I bet your dog will love them, too!

If you’ve tried Sniffspot, let us know about your experience in the comments below!

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