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Bz Dogs

BZ Dogs is an evidence-based behaviour change weight management programme designed to support dog-lovers to lose weight sustainably. The sessions are led by a qualified AFN Nutritionist or Dietitian, and a vet is involved to assess the dogs’ general health and weight

The 10-week programme consists of a 2-hour weekly session, which includes an hour of nutrition and behaviour change education, and an hour of physical activity, centred around the dogs – e.g. dog agility/walking step challenges. The physical activity session is designed to get both the dogs and the humans moving, in an activity that is both fun and beneficial for health (i.e. it raises the heart rate and can be counted as moderate to vigorous activity in line with government guidelines).

The sessions are designed to be fun and engaging, offering a strong social component and a common interest (the dogs).

Who is it for?

BZ Dogs is for adults aged 18+, who are able to bring a socialised dog they know and are in control of. BZ Dogs is currently only available in Brighton.

Eligibility Criteria

Participants must have a BMI ≥ 25 (≥23.5 if from a BAME Group). Carers/Support Workers are welcome to attend with a participant.

The Evidence

2/3 adults are overweight or obese, and yet, recruitment to adult weight management programmes across the country is not simple. What is on offer is usually a ‘one-size-fits-all’ programme which doesn’t appeal to everyone – BZ Dogs aims to offer something different, with a strong social component, a commonality, and also the opportunity to tie in exercising a dog with participating in a weight management programme.

Much of the rhetoric around mental health and wellbeing in recent years has centred upon social isolation and loneliness – BZ Dogs offers an opportunity to address this, potentially improving mental and social wellbeing, as well as physical health.

The nutrition and behaviour change content for BZ Dogs is evidence based, using NICE guidance, and will be the same as that provided in the dog-free versions of the programme.

The Outcomes

BZ Dogs participants (the human ones) can expect to lose between 1-2lbs per week when engaging with the programme, in line with NICE guidance. BZ Dogs aims for a target weight loss of 3% over the course of the programme (the same as in the dog-free versions).

In addition to these quantitative weight outcomes, we anticipate improvements in mental and social wellbeing, and physical health and fitness. We also anticipate improved wellbeing and fitness for the dogs.