Advice: Do you confront neighbors about their barking dog?
Plus, what to do when an annual gift exchange hits a snag.
My neighbor’s dog barks and howls when let outside, in varying bursts from 20 seconds to a minute or two. That is really only a long time on weekend mornings, when we’re trying to sleep in. I’ve considered saying something to the neighbor, but we’ve had maybe one conversation in the last 10 years. My husband says I should not say anything, that they’re probably not happy about the dog’s noise, either. I think if they knew, they might keep the dog inside at least until 8 a.m. What’s the etiquette here?
J.A. / Wellesley
Oh, for heaven’s sake, talk to them! You’re the dictionary definition of “reasonable” in this case. Your husband is right that they probably can’t do anything about the dog’s behavior overall, and good on him for realizing it. But you’re only asking them to keep Ol’ Yowler indoors until a reasonable hour on the weekends. They should go along with that just fine. It’s not ideal that this is your first interaction, but such is life in modern neighborhoods. You can sweeten the ask, and cement your image as a non-hater, by bringing along some doggie biscuits as a gift when you visit.
I have exchanged holiday gifts with a good friend for a number of years. I sent off her package as usual this year but have received nothing in return. What to do? I hate to sound greedy and ask where it is, but if she is going to stop our exchange, I would have liked to have known earlier.
G.W. / Dedham
Has she acknowledged your gift? If not, check in and make sure she got it — she may be under the impression that you’re the one who decided to stop the tradition. If she did, and doesn’t mention anything about your own, you can ask her closer to the next gift-giving occasion whether or not she’d like to continue exchanging presents. You won’t sound greedy if you keep the conversation on what works for both of you for the future, and avoid any hint of feeling cheated of the Gifts of Christmas Past.
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.