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Newport Manners + Etiquette: Dog Etiquette + More

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Who let the dog out? Spring brings leash etiquette to the fore.

Spring brings out dog owners but did they forget about dog leash laws? A question by a birdwatcher asking how to politely remind that unleashed dogs are endangering nesting areas, Wedding Rehearsal Dinner After-Party Etiquette, a Banker's Dress Code, and Funeral Etiquette for former daughter-in-laws lead the pack at Didi Lorillard's Newport Manners this week.   

What to say when leash-laws are ignored

Dear Didi,

In New York City's Central Park, dogs are required to be on a leash at all times in a few areas that are naturally planted and especially important for birds. Dogs are welcome off the leash in most of the park until 9 AM. Nevertheless, some owners let their dogs off-leash in the restricted area. When you politely ask them to put their dog on the leash until they are back in the permitted area, some owners respond abusively and continue day after day to disregard the law. Can you suggest a successful way to change their behavior, remembering that many dog owners just keep walking rather than stopping for a conversation?  P.R., Manhattan

Dear P.R.,

Obeying leash laws is a subject of controversy everywhere. Some dog owners seem to feel they are specially entitled. Too many simply ignore the laws, but they do so at other people's expense. There are good reasons for leash and pooper-scooper laws. 

Since, ethically, you can't tell a lie and spread false rumors about dog owners having been fined or that off-the-leash dogs were recently poisoned by rat bait, how about this?

You strike up a conversation by saying, "What a handsome canine you have there!" Then if the dog owner stops, say, "It will be such a shame to see all the songbirds disappear because of unleashed dogs."

In other words, grab the dog owner's attention with praise, so that he stops to talk to you. Then make him feel guilty for disobeying the law. Isn't that what a polite New Yorker would do? New Yorkers always want others to feel that their angst is far greater. ~Didi

Wedding Etiquette for Rehearsal Dinner After-Party

Dear Didi,

Since the bride's parents are sharing a big part of the expenses for the rehearsal dinner after-party with 10 other couples, do you include them on the invitation with the list of hosts?  R.E., Chicago

Dear R.E.,

Because the bride's parents are paying a big part of the expenses for the rehearsal dinner after-party, their names would be included on the list of hosts. Ask them exactly how they wish their names to appear on the invitation. Sometimes parents would rather underwrite the after-party anonymously, which is also an option.  ~Didi

Dress Code for a business dinner

Dear Didi,

I have been invited to a dinner party for the official opening of a bank. What should I wear?  T.L., Providence

Dear T.L.,

Business attire. Business, after all, is all about suits and dresses that are knee-length. It is NOT about the dressiness of the event. It is all about the quality of the business attire. Dress for the job you aspire to have one day.  ~Didi  

Etiquette for former mother-in-law's funeral

Dear Didi,

I am going to my former mother-in-law's funeral. I was part of the family for 30 years and have her 3 grandchildren. I have been divorced from her son for 3 years and he's with a new partner. Where do I sit in the church and do I go in the car with my grownup children? Thank you, Jane, Worcester, MA

Dear Jane,

Ask your grown children what they want you to do. This funeral is all about their grandmother. Yes, you are their mother and have every right to attend the funeral, and you want to be there for them and your grandchildren, but you also want to be there to mourn your former mother-in-law.

The family normally arrives at least forty minutes early to discuss with the clergyman where close family and friends will be seated. If you ask your children if you can go in their car, that means that you'll be arriving early with them. Since you'll be with them during the discussion of the seating, you will most likely be seated directly in back of your children and grandchildren.  ~Didi

We like hearing from you at NewportManners.com and if we use your question, we're happy to post it anonymously. Your important queries help other readers make better choices. Didi researches contemporary etiquette and all matters of manners for her book in progress, "Newport Etiquette." Or you can ask a question on Didi Lorillard's Facebook page or Twitter. Earlier GoLocalProv columns are listed below and can also be accessed through search. 


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I am a dog owner who lives across the street from Central Park and it makes me nuts when people don't follow leash laws. After 9PM in the evening and before 9AM in the morning dogs are allowed to go off leash in select areas. I remind dog owners of that and when I see repeat offenders I call the park rangers (you can find the number on CP's website). It may sound harsh but it's the law and when they break the law they are giving all the dog haters another reason to hate dog owners.

Comment #1 by deirdre sullivan on 2013 04 17

Hi Deirdre, thank you for your helpful comment. The birder specifically wanted a polite line to say to dog owners to make them comply with the leash-laws. I like your get-the-job-done attitude. ~Didi

Comment #2 by Didi Lorillard on 2013 04 19

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