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When are we overstepping the bounds?

Get Milk-Bone Happy

Get Milk-Bone Happy (Photo credit: Brett L.)

Just yesterday a man I see now and then when we walk our dogs gave my dog a treat without asking me first.  Now it’s not like I’m monitoring my dog’s diet, or that it’s a big deal that he gave her a treat, but for some reason, it really bugged me.  Just because he didn’t ask me first.  And unfortunately, the dog didn’t say, “Hold on. Can you please ask my mom if it’s okay for me to eat this mystery treat?”

But what I started wondering is – how do WE know when we’re crossing someone else’s invisible line, where we are doing something that for whatever reason bothers them?

Like when we tell a friend’s child that “no, in our house we don’t jump on the furniture while wearing muddy cleats,” or “please get your dirty hands out of the snacks, because it’s 5:00, you’re getting picked up in a minute, and your parents said you’re going out to dinner.”

Okay, so perhaps those are more straightforward scenarios, but I’m often unsure about how to handle things on the rare occasion that a kid who isn’t my own is being rude, or using words that I don’t think a kid should be using (earlier this year, I overheard an 8-year-old – not my own – refer to someone as a ‘bag of *insert non-8-year-old expletive here*’ ).

More often than not, rather than worry about disciplining the other kid (or, in a rare case, dog), I use these situations to teach my own kids (or, in a rare case, my own dog) about the good and bad things we see in the behavior of others, and what we expect in our own family.

Like not to take dog treats from strangers.

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