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Dustin Metzler of Pooch Fit – Maui dog running
Dustin Metzler is a professional dog runner who owns Pooch Fit in Maui. That’s right, he lives in Maui and gets paid to run with dogs! It’s been a year since Dustin purchased my ebook on how to start a dog running business, and he recently took the time to answer my questions on the success of his business.
That Mutt: What are the services you offer through Pooch Fit?
Dustin: I offer 30 minute running sessions. Most of my sessions are with two dogs at a time, sometimes three, depending on how easy they are. I also offer a mid-day pop in service after I’m done running for the day. This is a 15 minute service that’s great for people who just want me to take their dog(s) for a short walk.
TM: How do the dogs typically respond when they see you at the door?
D: “YES, IT’S POOCH FIT TIME!!!” Hahaha … well that’s at least what I think they’re saying. Total excitement. Seeing my dogs at the door is one of the things I look forward to most each day. It’s really a reminder to me how much they enjoy the running and exploration time.
TM: Why did you decide to start a dog running business?
D: I’ve always really liked dogs, and I enjoy running. One day I figured why not combine the two and make a business out of it. I’ve always wanted to have my own thing, and not have to work for someone else. I was tired of my job, and wanted to start looking forward to each day rather than constant boredom week in and week out. I do like people, but if I had a choice of working with humans everyday for 8 hours, or to “work” with dogs each day for 4-5 hours, I’ll choose my canine friends everytime! And really what I do, I cannot call “work.”
TM: What are some of the most rewarding parts about your job?
D: Where to begin? The most fulfilling thing to me is seeing how much my dogs’ running time means to them. Being around a lot of dogs for awhile now, I can easily pick up on their energy. They are so happy and content when you give them an outlet for something that is very primal to them. It’s very rewarding to do something that people really appreciate. My clients are awesome, and they’ve let me know countless times how much they appreciate the service.
It’s rewarding to create a life that I want, one that’s on my terms, and not one that I have to settle for. Jobs are great … I’m just not a very good employee. Not that I was ever bad, but working for someone else for 8 hours a day is just not for me. I may not make a lot of money with Pooch Fit, but there’s a lot more that goes into having a life that’s fulfilling. I’m able to work this business around my family time which is my first priority.
This business gives me the chance to stay in great physical shape. Running is an excellent activity for a person’s mental health as well. And being able to do it with a lot of 4 legged running partners is an awesome thing! It’s a simple life I have. When I go to bed each night, I rest very well. I know that I’m doing something great for my dogs, and something that will only continue to get better.
TM: What were the best advertising techniques for your business?
D: Like most businesses, word of mouth has been the most effective form of advertising. The best form of advertising is “you.” Trust has to be earned, and once you have that with clients, do everything you can to keep it strong. Do what you say you’ll do, always. Never over promise and then under deliver. Do the opposite of that. Always go the extra mile and do things that your clients would not expect. They will spread the word for you and be your best advertisement.
Next to word of mouth, Facebook has been a good way to promote Pooch Fit. There have been times I’ve ran by homes with dogs barking behind their fence. Once the session was over, I’d drive back to the home and put my flyer in their mailbox. Just doing that about 20 or so times, I’ve gotten 3 clients. There’s not much I’ve done as far as traditional advertising. Once again, the best thing is word of mouth.
TM: What’s your average running mileage in a day?
D: I’m currently running 25 dogs, the majority running multiple sessions a week. We combine for roughly 45 miles a week. Once I reach 60 miles I’ll consider looking for help.
TM: Do you have any advice for someone else who might be interested in starting a dog running business?
D: The first thing I would strongly encourage anyone interested is to buy Lindsay’s e-book on how to start a successful dog running business. The best $17 investment you’ll make. This is what I did 4 months before I officially started my business. Her advice is golden, and I can credit it for helping me get to where I’m at today.
Begin jogging to get into shape. Volunteer at a local rescue or shelter. I did this also for 4 months prior to starting Pooch Fit. You’ll gain a lot of experience running dogs, they will love you, and the rescue group or shelter will really appreciate it. One of the best things you’ll gain from this kind of volunteer work is seeing first hand how much the dogs love to get out and run. If you have any question on whether there’s a market for running canines, the rescue dogs will pretty much answer that for you. By their energy, they’ll show you how much this time means to them. You won’t doubt that you can make a dog running business work.
TM: Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
D: I’m grateful that I can spend my day with my canine friends. This is what I do full time now, and I wake each morning thankful for what I have. I appreciate Lindsay for writing her book and helping others start their own canine businesses. Like her, I highly encourage anyone interested to give it a go. You have to go into this with the right attitude though. It may take a little time to get going, but you gotta be “all in” so to speak. If you’re fully committed and passionate about what you do, people will see that and feel it. Once you get to that point, you’ll be successful.
Looking for the right perspective? Consider this … How many times do humans commit to exercise, get a gym membership, workout for a few months, and then quit. Pretty often, right? Then they’ll get motivated again, start up, and quit again. A pattern that can repeat itself year after year. Over the past 12 months, I’ve ran well over 1,000 miles with pooch in stride, and here is what I can tell you about our 4 legged friends. NOT ONCE did they have an excuse to skip a run … never. Not once did their energy say, “not today, I’ll start up again next week.” Every single day they’re ready to go. This commitment and loyalty is something I’ve come to really admire and appreciate about dogs.
My goal in this interview is to help you see that this is an awesome endeavor and something worthwhile for you to consider. You’ll find when you exercise with dogs, you’re not only connecting with them on a canine level, but you’re helping to fulfill a very primal need for them. They’ll love you for it, and you’ll soon recognize that the joy you’re giving them is something that will come right back to you.
TM: Thanks to Dustin and all the dogs with Pooch Fit for taking the time to answer my questions! Dustin encourages others to email their success stories to him at email@example.com.
For anyone interested in starting a dog running business, my ebook is your first step. It covers everything such as obtaining insurance, what to put on liability forms and how to gain customers fast. I also offer a consulting package, which is a great way to get your specific questions answered by someone who’s been there. Learn more