The Washington Post

What are the responsibi­lities of dog owners when they’re hosting gatherings?

- JUDITH MARTIN, JACOBINA MARTIN AND NICHOLAS IVOR MARTIN New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washington­ You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanner­ You can also follow her @Realmissma­nn

Dear Miss Manners: There is a debate among a local group on the topic of a dog owner’s responsibi­lities when hosting an event in their home. One faction says, “My dogs are part of my family, so they’re going to be interactin­g with guests.” Another faction says, “As host, your responsibi­lity is to your guests first, so your dog should be in a kennel or outside.”

My own thought is that our dogs are part of the family, but that we have a responsibi­lity to train them in at least basic manners (such as commands like “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “drop it”). Also, if I invite someone who hasn’t been to my home previously, it is my responsibi­lity to tell them about the dogs so that they can decline if they have allergies or are otherwise uncomforta­ble with dogs.

I believe I understand my responsibi­lities as a dog owner, but I’m not sure of them as a host.

It seems to Miss Manners as if you have that reversed: namely, that you know your responsibi­lities as a host (looking out for the comfort of your guests) but not those of pet ownership (teaching family manners).

Frisky is welcome to roam the house when guests you know to be compatible with her are present. But there are also times, and methods, for managing interactio­ns among family and guests — many of which do not leave anyone looking in the window with sad eyes while the rain pours down on them.

For instance, you expect your spouse to curtail a fixation on devices to spend time with the guests; you expect the children to come down and say hello; and you do not include your brother because he had a bad breakup with one of the guests 20 years ago.

Neither you nor your family members interpret any of those as a disavowal of kinship. Why, then, do so many pet owners think it questions their relationsh­ip with Frisky to put her in the bedroom for a few hours with her food and water? She might prefer that to having to listen to your college roommate telling the same story every time.

Dear Miss Manners: Some people will ask for permission to do something — and immediatel­y do it anyway! For example: asking if they may borrow a pen, while already picking it up. Asking if they may have a candy from a bowl, then grabbing one. Asking if they may pet a dog while they lean forward and touch the animal.

How can I ask them to actually wait for the answer, instead of assuming that I was going to say yes?

Although you have the right principle, Miss Manners thinks that how objectiona­ble the behavior is depends on the ask. And the normal rule that it is rude to correct another person’s behavior applies in any case.

But you asked how to stop this behavior, so she will tell you: Respond quickly, with a warning that is likely to stop the perpetrato­r dead in her tracks. “Careful, that pen leaks!” “That’s not candy, it’s a marble!” or “Careful, he bites!” will all serve.

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