Petition calls for Channel 4’s Train Your Baby Like a Dog to be pulled

Telegraph Reporters
Jo-Rosie Haffenden's new documentary has been criticised by multiple campaigning groups - (Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) CHANNEL 4 PICTURE PUBLICITY 124 HOR

Channel 4 is facing calls to cancel a controversial new documentary that compares the training of children to that of animals.

Train Your Baby Like a Dog, which is scheduled to air on Tuesday, is presented by animal behaviourist Jo-Rosie Haffenden.

In the documentary, Haffenden treats a three-year old child suffering “daily tantrums and violent outbursts” and an 18-month old baby with sleep problems.

Her methods include “clicker training”, a controversial method that is typically used to teach dogs to follow commands.

A Change.org petition to cancel the show already has over 24,000 of its 25,000-signature target.

Emma Dalmayne, CEO of the organisation Autistic Inclusive Meets, writes in the petition that Haffenden’s methods are “dehumanising to children” and will make them “prime target[s] for grooming in the future”.

She adds that “clicker training is used in the behaviourial therapy Applied Behaviourial Analysis, used on autistic children”, and that the approach is “shown to cause PTSD in adults that were subjected to it”.

The Professional Association of Canine Trainers has separately released a statement calling the programme “unethical and sensationalist”.

They note that clicker training alone is not enough to retrain a dog, and continue: “Suggesting the use of a framework for changing behaviour in children which is already questionable in dogs is absurd.”

On Monday, the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) wrote to Channel 4 and the regulator Ofcom about their concernss.

Dr Nick Waggett, chief executive of ACP, called it a “very disturbing… inflammatory and de-humanising idea.”

Liz Bayram, chief executive of PACEY, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, called it “potentially damaging and outdated pseudoscience”.

In the programme’s promotional material, Haffenden claims that “if everyone parented their child the same way we’re training our dogs, we’d end up with much more caring and compassionate human beings”.

Train Your Baby Like a Dog is due to air on Tuesday 20 at 8pm on Channel 4.