Maybe it’s not your dog. Maybe it’s you.
That can be tough to hear for those of us who have dogs — and also have trouble training them. Cesar Millan, star of the popular “Dog Whisperer” series and last year’s “Dog Nation” on Nat Geo Wild, serves up advice you can try at home mixed in with laughs, poignant stories and real pooches on stage, during his live stage show coming to NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Thursday.
“My goal in life is to show people that energy is what we need to focus on before we start training dogs,” says Millan.
That’s just for starters. Here are four training tips you’ll learn at his show.
IT HELPS TO KNOW WHAT STATE YOU LIVE IN
No, he’s not talking Google Maps. “Just like you know your ZIP code, you should know the state of mind you live in most,” says Millan. Anxious? Frustrated? Quick-tempered? “Animals are way more sensitive than humans — and they can’t just put on headphones and tune you out.” Dogs will pick up on your energy, which can color how they perceive your commands.
YOU NEED TO WALK
“Europeans encourage their children to hike, to go outdoors,” Millan says. Americans? Not so much. Long Islanders know this all too well — ours is a driving culture. “Unless you live in New York City,” he says. “They’re the only people in America who walk.” Given all our driving, our dogs clock a lot of time in the car, too. Even if a dog likes to ride, it means more of his day is spent sitting in a small space, unable to expend energy, which can lead to a buildup of anxiety, excitement, barking or territorial behavior.
YOUR DOG NEEDS A JOB
“If you teach a dog to receive everything without working for it, he becomes what people call spoiled,” Millan says. “People say, ‘Oh, my dog is very jealous, he doesn’t like when other dogs are around, or when my husband gives me a hug or kiss.’ ” That’s not jealousy, but selfishness learned from you, he says. Now Millan’s no buzzkill — he’s all for dogs sitting on your couch and sleeping in your bed, but only once invited to do so. “How can a dog go to a dog park and practice good social behavior if he knows he can jump on the couch whenever he wants?”
AFFECTION IS IMPORTANT, BUT . . .
“I always use the formula: exercise, mental stimulation, affection — in that order,” he says. “But most of my clients practice affection, affection, affection.” That doesn’t work in a marriage — “you have to earn the affection, the respect,” he notes — and it doesn’t work when raising children. Just like kids, dogs need to know clear rules and boundaries and the ways they’re expected to help the family.
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Thursday, NYCB Theatre at Westbury
INFO $29.50-$69.50; 800-653-8000, livenation.com