'Train Your Baby Like A Dog' slated as 'dehumanising' and 'indefensible'

Jo-Rosie Haffenden in Train Your Baby Like A Dog (Channel 4)
Jo-Rosie Haffenden in Train Your Baby Like A Dog (Channel 4)

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.

Haffenden uses techniques that involve a clicker and telling the child to sit (Channel 4)
Haffenden uses techniques that involve a clicker and telling the child to sit (Channel 4)

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.

Read more: Autism Advocates Petition to Cancel U.K. TV Series

“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.

Read more: This Morning viewers outraged as guest says children should be trained like dogs

Disgusted viewers took to Twitter to express their concerns about the potentially damaging effects of Haffenden’s techniques.

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."

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