Channel 4’s controversial new documentary Train You Baby Like A Dog has been described as ‘dehumanising’ and ‘indefensible’ after 25,000 people sign a petition for the show to be cancelled.
The documentary series, which aired for the first time on Tuesday, sees animal behaviourist Jo-Rosie Haffenden teach parents to use dog training techniques (including the use of a clicker) for them to implement with their children.
In the first episode, Haffenden – who claims to have successfully used the same techniques with her own son – attempts to help a three-year-old boy dealing with tantrums and an 18-month-old who won’t sleep in her cot.
However, the show has been heavily slated by critics and viewers alike, with The Guardian’s Chitra Ramaswamy describing it as ‘dehumanising’ and ‘indefensible’.
“A disclaimer at the end of this often troubling, occasionally sensible, and ultimately indefensible programme states that all techniques were approved by a clinical psychologist. Maybe so, but many will not approve,” she wrote.
“What a show like this, and for that matter plenty of parenting advice, tends to forget is that children are neither animals nor some special category of person. They are us. Humans.”
Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan noted that, while Haffenden’s training techniques worked, he couldn’t see the show being stretched much further beyond the pilot episode.
At present, a Change.org petition calling for the show to be cancelled has been signed by over 25,000 people who argue that it could potentially turn the children into targets for grooming in the future, as they have been taught to follow adults’ commands.
Disgusted viewers took to Twitter to express their concerns about the potentially damaging effects of Haffenden’s techniques.
I am utterly raging at the arrogance of this trainer and lack of understanding of *actual humans*. #TrainYourBabyLikeADog is simply shocking and I can’t believe it was allowed to proceed.— Morag Malloy (@Solo_Mo) August 20, 2019
I’m seriously concerned how close #trainyourbabylikeadog is to abuse. Appalling failure. Drs and MBE’s and professional who know what they are talking about have been trying to tell you for days how disgusting this is. @Channel4 is a joke.— Incey Wincey Day Nursery and Preschool (@WinceyIncey) August 20, 2019
On Tuesday, Haffenden appeared on This Morning to defend her methods, claiming a “huge assumption” was being made about her techniques because she was using a clicker.
Presenter Eamonn Holmes said in response: "I can understand the initial outrage but we do humanise our dogs a lot more now, so why not do that in reverse."
To which Haffenden replied: "Yes because dogs are a hell of a lot like us - they experience loneliness, they can tell the difference in tone of voice."