June 16, 2024
Plus: Should I have been more assertive in asking for cake?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve moved back to my hometown with my 6-month-old dog, and I’m staying with my mom while I wait for my condo to sell.

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I have an aunt and uncle who come by often, typically unannounced, and who have strong opinions about, well, everything — including how I’m training my dog, even though neither of them has ever had a dog.

The trainer’s protocol is for visitors to completely ignore the dog when he jumps up to greet them and to immediately reward him when he sits. It’s working for everyone except my aunt and uncle, who refuse to do it (they yell “no” and “down” and push him off) and openly criticize the idea of giving a dog treats for anything.

If I know they’re coming, I put the dog in the backyard, but they often just show up, let themselves in and say “knock, knock!”

I know that a guest’s comfort is more important than a dog’s, and that it’s also not my house. But is it rude to ask them to give me some notice before they come over, or even just to knock when they arrive, so I can put my dog outside?

It’s tough to teach him manners when visitors don’t have any of their own.

GENTLE READER: Having strong opinions is not rude, which is a good thing for you, your aunt and uncle, your dog (as evidenced by his jumping on visitors), your dog’s trainer, and Miss Manners herself.

Etiquette is concerned with when, whether and how those opinions are expressed. In the no-treat-for-you column, Miss Manners would have to include letting your dog jump on your relatives (even unannounced ones) and requiring guests to assist in the dog’s training.

In the supper-is-served column, she includes gentle requests for advance notice of visits and ringing the doorbell upon arrival, but also excusing oneself to put the dog out while your aunt and uncle talk among themselves in the living room.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I were invited over to a couple’s house for dinner. We brought a cake for dessert. After dinner, they cut the cake and gave everyone a piece.

I wanted a second slice, but our hosts never offered us seconds. At one point, I made a joke about how we should have more cake, but no one took it seriously and asked us if we wanted more. If they had, I would have said yes.

Since the cake was a gift that we left with them, I felt it wasn’t my place to directly ask for more.

Should I have been more assertive, or should they have offered us more cake? My husband thinks I should have spoken up.

GENTLE READER: Although Miss Manners would not have raised an eyebrow had you meekly requested a second slice, she does wonder at the urgency of the problem. Having acquired said cake yourself, you presumably know the ingredients and/or where to find another.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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