How do I make people respect my wishes regarding my apartment?
February 21, 2013 5:35 PM   Subscribe

I recently got a new dog, a new apartment and new friends. I've asked new friends to a) not wear shoes on the carpet and b) not feed the dog table scraps. Nobody is listening. Help!

I haven't been assertive about this because I grew up socially awkward with no friends, I haven't known these people for more than a few months and I'm terrified of losing all of them as friends and going back to being alone.

I have a few people visiting regularly. When someone firsts visits, I always say some form of "no shoes on the carpet." Everyone except one person just kind of chuckled at me and traipsed in with their shoes on anyway.

The second issue - I adopted a dog from the pound with a bad begging habit. I said up front, please don't feed her table scraps because it'll enforce the bad habit. No one is listening. One person even gave her table scraps twenty minutes after I said that.

Maybe it seems trivial, but I'm getting increasingly pissed off. Shoes on the carpet grosses me out, I walk barefoot around the place and there's little salt rocks everywhere because of the weather. Argh!! I've thought of putting up a "no shoes" sign, but has anyone ever walked into a house with such a sign and not immediately thought "wow, what an asshole?"

And the table scraps is an issue because it messes up the feeding/pooping schedule for my dog, making it more likely she'll shit in the house (which she's been doing), isn't healthy for her and is reinforcing that annoying begging habit.

I don't know what to do. How can I have my wishes respected without alienating people or losing friends? Why doesn't anyone take me seriously?! Ugh!
posted by Pericardium to Human Relations (56 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I know many people who have a no-shoes-in-the-house rule. I understand how that works. You take off your shoes at the door and walk around in your socks.

I don't understand how a no-shoes-on-the-carpet rule would work. Maybe your visitors also don't understand that.
posted by alms at 5:37 PM on February 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Your friends are being disrespectful jerks. Do they disrespect you the rest of the time, too? If so, you need new friends.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:38 PM on February 21, 2013 [22 favorites]

An idea for the shoes is to put a mat or little stand by the front door for peoples shoes. Put a few of yours on there too and when people arrive you can point to it and say "You can put your shoes here".

I had a friend who had a little mat with shoes on it by the door and even though they never actually asked me, I always took my shoes off anyway.

As for the dog, perhaps you need to put her outside when people are eating? Or say she's on a special diet due to allergies and table scraps could really make her sick. The shelter told you that, right? ;)
posted by Youremyworld at 5:39 PM on February 21, 2013 [22 favorites]

I have a few people visiting regularly. When someone firsts visits, I always say some form of "no shoes on the carpet."

Wow, you must have any Asian friends. Is there a shoe rack with a nice pile of shoes at the door? Do they see you take your shoes off if you go in together?

No easy way around this I'm afraid - it comes up at our house occasionally. I just stand in front of people (not so they're outside, but so they can't come any further in), and just say, "would you mind taking your shoes off?"

Re: the dog, you need to lock the dog up in the bedroom/outside, wherever, next time someone does this, make the link clear you are punishing the dog for the offender's dipshit behaviour. "Oh sorry, I'm trying to break Nero's begging, I have to lock him away if he gets fed at the table."

You just have to keep insisting. Also, don't ask people over; meet at cafes or whatever.
posted by smoke at 5:40 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

As for the dog, perhaps you need to put her outside when people are eating?

posted by Mblue at 5:41 PM on February 21, 2013

Your friends are assholes. I'm blunt with my friends about stuff like this. If they have shoes on in the house I point at the shelf by the door and say "Shoes Off." I've yet to have someone disregard. Also, the begging problem. I tell my friends if they feed my dogs table food I'll start putting dog food in the food I make for them, this works because 1) My friends are single, don't cook, and come to my house for good food, and 2) They know I'll follow though.

The solution here is to be blunt, and follow through.

Maybe I'm the asshole.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:43 PM on February 21, 2013 [39 favorites]

If your friends are literally laughing at you and ignoring you when you ask them to take their shoes off, neither a sign nor a shoe rack is going to work. But you say that you only do this when somebody "first visits." If you care about this, you should reiterate it every time somebody comes over (until they start to do it automatically), and you should not let them past the threshold until they do.

[By the way, some people get really irritated by being made to take their shoes off, but I'm assuming that you've decided you care about this policy more than you care about regularly vacuuming, and so I'm taking it as given.]
posted by willbaude at 5:44 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Regarding shoes: Just ask nicely when people come in if they can kick them off, and maybe have a pair of yours there so it doesn't look so messy. I always hate putting my shoes that are all grimy from outside on someone's nice clean floor, so if you can make it look like less of an intrusion that'd be awesome! I usually don't wear shoes at home and my house is really clean so a lot of people assume and just remove them, or ask if I want them to.

Regarding the dog, I am positive people don't have bad intentions. I have 3 dogs and they eat table scraps and I would be that friend who absent-mindedly gave your dog some scraps because in my head dog=food repository. If you reminded me again I'd feel super sorry and would apologize and probably the embarrassment would make me not do it again. I agree that putting the dog outside or in a different room would solve that easier than training all your friends. Sorry!!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:45 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

In Japan there are little slippers at the door for guests. They can be washed, so they're nice and clean.

Perhaps if you make a little ritual of it, people will take to it. You can get some nice, cheap ones at Wal-Mart.

As for the dog, tell folks that he has health issues and that he can't have people-food. (He does, that begging is bad for his health, so is people food.)

If these people STILL don't respect your wishes, they don't deserve to be in your house.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:47 PM on February 21, 2013 [10 favorites]

Be nice but firm. Sound upbeat and pleasant, but tell people what you need.

"Hey, can you please take your shoes off? I really don't like street dirt on my floors. Thanks so much!" If you're met with laughter, say, "I'm serious!" It might really help to have a mat on the floor with other shoes on it - do you leave your shoes by the door? You might want to start doing so.

"Please don't feed the dog from the table. It's not good for him/I am training him to stop begging/I don't want him to eat people food."

Repeat as necessary. Like, you might have to say the dog thing a few times at dinner. Your friends should get the message.
posted by k8lin at 5:54 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

As soon as your friends come into your house, say, "You can leave your shoes by the door -- yup, by the door, thanks for understanding!"

Then say, "Okay, about my dog... I took it to the vet recently and they told me she's got growing health issues because people are feeding her scraps from the table. Please, please do not feed her any human food or leftovers or scraps. I know it's hard because she begs, but if I don't break her of that habit now, she's literally going to die of heart or kidney failure in less than a year."

And then if you catch someone giving the dog scraps on the sly, consider whether you want someone that passive aggressive as your friend.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:55 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have a no shoes in the house rule. When people come over, I say to them, "I am one of those no shoes in the house people," and then they take off their shoes. It has never been a problem.

I also have a dog. My dog gets people food all the time because he's spoiled. My dog very, very rarely gets food from people who are over at my house, and if he does, it's because the person has asked me first, "is it ok if I feed your dog [this thing]?" and I either say yes or no.

Neither of these has ever been a problem. Maybe I'm lucky and just have really nice, respectful friends.

I assure you, though, if someone didn't respect my wishes, I would tell them firmly, "hey, look, I just told you not to do [thing], please don't do [thing]." And if they continued despite my protestations, I would not continue to be friends with that person.

If your friends don't respect the way you like to live in your house or the health and well being of your pet, then they are friends you can afford to lose (because they are not your friends).

Life is too short to spend time trying to please people who suck.
posted by phunniemee at 5:56 PM on February 21, 2013 [14 favorites]

I don't think you should put the dog outside or lock up the dog or in any way punish the dog because of how these people are acting. If they can't respect your wishes in your home, they are not your friends. I don't think your requests are unreasonable.
posted by sweetkid at 5:57 PM on February 21, 2013 [13 favorites]

I'd look at this as a test, people who can't comply with your two very simple (and so very not weird) rules for your house can't be depended on as friends. If they know you are serious and are still ignoring you they aren't really your friends.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:58 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Why doesn't anyone take me seriously?!

I have to agree with Insectosaurus. Either there is something you're not telling us or not aware of, like maybe you have some weird mannerism that is causing people to think you're joking when you ask them to remove their shoes...or you just have a bunch of jerks for friends. I am one of those people who thinks it's stupid and borderline rude to ask guests to remove articles of clothing upon entering your home (yes, including shoes) but even I, when asked politely and explicitly, wouldn't dream of "just kind of chuckling" and traipsing in anyway. That's plain rude.

By the way, having "little salt rocks everywhere" is gross irrespective of whether you walk around barefoot. Vacuum.

I said up front, please don't feed her table scraps because it'll enforce the bad habit. No one is listening. One person even gave her table scraps twenty minutes after I said that.

Your problem doesn't seem to have anything to do with shoes, or carpet, or the dog. Your problem is social: You have rude friends, and you're not confrontational. (You actually are being assertive, but apparently that isn't sufficient for your audience.) If your friends weren't jerks, then your requests would be honored. If you were confrontational, then you could probably push your friends into compliance. And 'round you go!

My instinctive advice would be to make new friends, but since that's probably unrealistic, my advice is to adjust the other thing. What's interesting is that you used the phrase, "alienating people." Is it possible that part of the reason you don't push harder is that you're afraid of alienating people? If so, then I'd suggest trying it anyway.

Rude people who only respond to confrontational tactics aren't usually alienated by confrontational tactics. Generally speaking, when you're dealing with a personality type that requires blunt force to communicate with (so to speak), they actually respond fairly well to it. That particular water passes under the bridge quickly, and the friendship continues healthy. You might be surprised just how well your particular friends respond to a light, appropriate crack of a whip.
posted by cribcage at 5:59 PM on February 21, 2013 [11 favorites]

I would stand at the doorway and sort of physically be in their way till they'd taken their shoes off. Like you're waiting for them to do it. And if they go to walk past you say, "Oh, you've probably forgotten, this is a shoe off home. Sorry, I should have reminded you. Jane and Bill always forget too. It's hard remembering which house has that rule and which doesn't."

Also..."I hate to be a killjoy because feeding a begging dog scraps is the best fun, I know, but Fido craps on my carpet if she's fed off-menu. And you've got no shoes on...."
posted by taff at 6:01 PM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

but I'm assuming that you've decided you care about this policy more than you care about regularly vacuuming,

Not wearing shoes in the house and finally living in my own apartment where I can police it 100% has cut down tremendously on my allergies. Keeping the outside from getting inside is the best way to achieve it. I'd literally have to vacuum several times per day to get the same effect. The no shoes in the house thing doesn't necessarily come from a wish to be lazy about housekeeping.
posted by phunniemee at 6:02 PM on February 21, 2013 [22 favorites]

"Don't give the dog any people food because it gives him a massive case of diarrhea" is both effective and (sadly) true at our house.
posted by jamaro at 6:05 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am also a no-shoes in the house person. This is how I grew up, and I married Japanese, so this is how I am for good. It is beyond me why someone would wear the same shoes in a house that have been on city streets and inside public restrooms. It helps to have a few pairs of shoes on a mat by the door. Most people will see this and get the hint. If they don't, please ask that they leave their shoes on the mat. This is no different than asking people not to smoke in your home.

I think it is gross to have a dog roaming around and under the table where human beings are eating. Put the dog outside or shut it inside a room during meal times.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:08 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Something else is actually taking place here...

These "friends" have picked up on your shy, desperate vibe and are treating you accordingly. In other words, they are taking advantage of you (and your apartment). Likely they see you and your place as highly convenient, but more for them to hang out together. Your friendship to them is not equal as their friendship to you. A significant imbalance.

Accommodating the wishes of a host are a sign of respect. They are not respecting you, and you know it. You will have to decide which is more important to you.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:09 PM on February 21, 2013 [9 favorites]

Yes, I suspect the "no shoes on the carpet" framing may be partially what is confusing people here. I think just firmly and cheerfully insisting that people take their shoes off before they advance into the house is the key. As someone said above--you just stand in their way until it's done. Having slippers to offer is a good idea; some people just don't feel comfortable walking about in socks or bare feet. When your friends get to understand that it really is a *rule* they might start bringing their own slippers or a pair on "inside only" shoes with them.

The dog one is weird; I can't imagine feeding a dog from the table without asking permission. I think that will require a little more confrontation. I think you'll have to repeat the rule again when people sit down to eat (again, firmly and cheerfully), but if someone goes ahead anyway you'll probably have to scoop up the dog and lock him out of the room. I think that will be pointed enough to make your friends realize that you mean it.
posted by yoink at 6:12 PM on February 21, 2013

AskMe covered the hell out of asking guests to take their shoes off in the house (in North America). I think there was even a Google doc survey. I link this only because seeing the wide range of possible reactions might help you understand why this request can go so sideways, and also give you some ideas for other ways to ask.
posted by juliplease at 6:16 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I was going to mention the earlier AskMeFi thread on shoes in the house, but juliplease beat me to it. This is a complicated issue. At the very least, if you're going to do it, put a mat with shoes outside your dwelling, or immediately inside in the vestibule, and provide slippers. My wife and I take our shoes off inside, but I'd never dream of asking guests to do so. And in France, where we spend a fair amount of time, it would be considered quite rude to do so. Guests know that streets and sidewalks are dirty; that's why dwellings have doormats, so you can wipe off your shoes before entering. Ideally, they are robust and have stiff bristles that brush off most of the dirt and grime.
posted by brianogilvie at 6:29 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think you can make people do anything but you can stop having them over until they respect your reasonable requests for your apartment. One of my good friends is Korean. She just reminds me when I come over, "Hey, sorry, Asian household, no shoes in the house, I'm weird like that." Seems totally reasonable to me.
posted by kat518 at 6:32 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I suspect this is less about the shoes and the dog and more about your friends and/or you. Either they're not hearing what you think you're communicating, or they're just assholes. Is there a pattern of this with these friends? Or with people in general? I don't mean to sound rude, but I suspect that there is a larger issue. Either you need to be more direct or you need nicer friends.

As for the dog, put him outside or kennel him or whatever when you have food out. I honestly do this when we have guests over to eat, or when we are eating a nice meal just the two of us, because dogs in your face when you're eating is really annoying.
posted by radioamy at 6:36 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only thing I have to add is that I wonder where you live and how cold it is in your apartment. If your apartment runs on the cold side, shoes are the best way to stay warm. So providing an alternative could work.

Also my mom always put down a couple throw rugs by the front door to capture all the rock salt and wetness from wintery weather -- this works really well for keeping the rest of the carpet clean.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:37 PM on February 21, 2013

I'm sorry if my comment came off as harsh. I am sensitive to not having a lot of friends (we just moved and are going through the process of establishing new friends) and not wanting to jeopardize the friendships. But if you truly do communicate your needs in your own home and these people continue to totally ignore them, then they're not the type of people you want to be around anyways.
posted by radioamy at 6:38 PM on February 21, 2013

Agree with alms and yoink that any phrasing using 'carpet' vs 'in the house' may confuse people - it might even, depending on your delivery, come across as (an attempt at) a joke. You're using 'carpet' because that's the bit that disgusts you most, but it's not the usage that would trigger familiarity.

Try 'in the house', with a slightly apologetic look to acknowledge that guests might be made uncomfortable by having to take off their shoes, or, the slightly self-deprecating tone described by phunnimee.

Re dog, put it in another room, at least until you're further along in training, and can more confidently advise people on how to behave around it.

All above with a smile :)
posted by nelljie at 6:42 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're the one who's been involved in these interactions, so you have a better sense than me of the tone people have when they don't take off their shoes, but consider that there may be a lot of reasons people wouldn't want to do so:

-- bad case of stinky feet
-- special insoles that are needed for comfort (I have a friend who basically never goes without shoes or special slippers due to foot problems - if you asked her to remove her shoes, it would be causing her pain)
-- complicated shoes that take a long time to take off/put on
-- mobility issues, shoes, or a combination of the two that requires one to sit down to take them off/on, and you don't have a seat in your doorway
-- wore ugly socks and is embarrassed
-- etc. etc.

There are so many different reasons here that I would not insist a guest in my home complied with this. Assuming people are not over every night, just do a quick vacuum after guests leave.

As far as the dog, n'thing putting him away during dinner. I HATE animals up in my face while I am trying to eat. Train the dog not to beg first, then let him out during mealtime. If he never learns (some just don't), then always put him away. This is not some horrible punishment - many dog owners I know do this because it is a serious pain in the ass to have an animal begging while one is trying to eat a nice meal!
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:49 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing changing "no shoes on the carpet" to "no shoes in the house." Also, having a shoe rack right by the door (with some of your shoes on it as examples) definitely helps people get the idea. I have one in the hall right outside my apartment door, and almost every person who comes over sees it, halts, and asks if they should take their shoes off before coming in. (The fact that it's overflowing with my bajillion pairs of shoes probably helps it be extra noticeable.)

Also agreeing that you should reframe the dog request as a health issue, instead of a training one (even if it's not true). In my experience, people are more respectful of health issues than training philosophies. "Please don't feed Fido table scraps--he has a really sensitive stomach, and can't tolerate people food. Thanks!" And then if you catch anyone doing it, give them a gentle reminder.
posted by tan_coul at 7:04 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You use the word "the pound" instead of "the shelter" making me suspect that you might be in the UK.

I knew a few Brits with whom the no-shoes-in-house thing is an utterly alien concept. They typically grew up impoverished or at least in subsidized housing.

Also, are you in a lower-rent part of a less-affluent city? Or maybe rural? How nice is your apartment? When I was living in the Midwest, I acquired a bunch of acquaintances who grew up poor/low-class and they were used to the inside being just as hazardous to feet as the outside.

That said, ask your friends to take their shoes off while inside. If they really are laughing at you, you're better off shedding these people and go back to finding other friends. How do your friends treat you aside from the shoes/dog things?
posted by porpoise at 7:12 PM on February 21, 2013

I agree that your guests should respect your wishes about no shoes in your place. I have lots of friends in New England who have a no shoes inside rule. Since I know that, and also know that my feet get cold, I try to make sure to bring an extra pair of socks to their places when I go.

With that said, I am always grateful to the people who try to make it easy on me to abide by their rules about shoes. if you have a good doormat, a shoe rack or boot tray by the door, a low stool or chair or a bench nearby for taking off your shoes, and, even more, if you are super nice and have a few pairs of slippers - example - you would be in a very good position to make it easy for everyone to do what you want.
posted by gudrun at 7:15 PM on February 21, 2013

Here's what I do to enforce the "No shoes" rule in my house with people. When someone arrives, I greet them at the door with a big hug and then, still smiling, hold out my hands until they remove their shoes; if necessary, I physically block their way in beyond the foyer until they do. Put on your best schoolmarm face if they try to argue and just stand firm. It may seem awkward the first time or two, but it's your place dammit; don't be a pushover in your own home! You have to practice being assertive on the things that matter to you. Once the shoes are off, have them placed in the shoe area near the door. Easy.

The same goes for your rule about your dog; don't ask. Insist. Tell your guests firmly that your dog isn't to be fed by anyone but you. You don't have to give them a reason, that's just the rule in your house. If they can't abide by your rules, then they're being rude guests, plain and simple. Embarrass them by calling them on their behavior in front of everyone, "Dude, I told you not to feed my dog." and shoot them a look. Repeat offenders shouldn't be invited back to your home. Hang out with them elsewhere if you want to maintain a friendship, but frankly, anyone who is such a jerk to you about such simple things isn't worth your time or friendship.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:34 PM on February 21, 2013

I straight up tell people that my dog will get sick if he eats human food. I may occasionally use the phrase "poop EVERYWHERE."
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:35 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

"I know some of you like to feed my dog even though I'd rather you didn't, so here are the plastic bags and disinfectant so you can clean up after him when he's made a mess inside. Don't worry, the vet bill for his stomach issues shouldn't cost you TOO much, either. Thanks so much!"
posted by Jubey at 8:10 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

And if they go to walk past you say, "Oh, you've probably forgotten, this is a shoe off home. Sorry, I should have reminded you. Jane and Bill always forget too. It's hard remembering which house has that rule and which doesn't."

I think this is way too much ado. You don't need to offer a huge justification for why you don't want people to wear shoes in your apartment, and you don't need to "soften the blow" with lots of hedging about how hard it is to remember the rules. The more you explain, the more you indicate to them that you can be pushed around.

I think it would be better to just say, "Hey, I don't wear shoes in the house. You can leave yours on this rack/on the mat/in the hall closet." If you want to be lighthearted about it, you can just say something like, "Sorry, I just hate vacuuming." If people ignore your request, it's totally appropriate to respond with something like, "Dude, I'm serious."

This would annoy me too, both because I think wearing shoes in the house is filthy and because it's rude to ignore a direct request in someone else's home. If someone really does have a huge issue with the no-shoe rule, maybe you can hang out at their place in the future instead.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:14 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The shoes/no shoes in the house is an intense cultural shibboleth. I basically lose the plot of a movie once there's a scene in which the protagonists flop on their beds with shoes on. "OMG OMG OMG shoes in bedroom shoes near bed shooooooooes NOOOOOOOOO.... Wait who was the murderer?" So it's difficult for me to remember that people who grew up in a shoes on household will find taking off their shoes weird or uncomfortable.

N-thing offering cheap house slippers. Some people may have holey, mismatched socks. Or aforementioned stinky feet. A foot cover-up will keep everyone's modesty intact. Come to think of it, shoes-off culture is totally the reason why Korea has awesome socks. Flaunt 'em if you got 'em.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:32 PM on February 21, 2013

I have a nice framed note asking people not to feed my dog, as well as not let him use their phone or their credit cards. I show it to new guests, they chuckle, and I repeat about not feeding him. Good luck on the rugs--I think it's a losing battle and use my Dyson as often as necessary,
posted by Ideefixe at 8:46 PM on February 21, 2013

This may be my Bay Area growing-up showing, but no-shoes-in-the-house is a pretty common ask. I distinctly remember the first time I was told this when visiting a new neighbor's kid, and while it seemed weird to me at the time, of course I took 'em off; you do what your host asks when you're a guest in someone's home. And the dog thing? Horrible.

Stop inviting these people over: they're graceless jerks and their blatant disregard for your house rules shows that they're not your friends.
posted by smirkette at 8:49 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

One of my dogs has extreme food allergies. When people go to feed him anything not vetted by me in advance, I leap bodily in front of them and say, "Unless you want to come spend a few days cleaning up after him, please don't give him anything you haven't run by me first."

It sounds like your dog has a less extreme version of this, so you aren't even lying. My dog has come close to death from gastrointestinal upset, so I don't fuck around with this stuff. Once you've paid the vet bills for an overnight stay, you won't either.
posted by town of cats at 9:16 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

We keep our own shoes in the tiled part of the entry hall. Most of our friends take the hint and remove theirs as well on entering. Having a designated shoe place seems to make it more natural. If you're already doing that and also asking/reminding them and they still don't cooperate, then I think you have a different problem, which is that they're not especially polite or considerate friends.
posted by shattersock at 9:23 PM on February 21, 2013

I have been a vocal hater of no-shoes houses in the past. However, I have never and would never balk at taking off my shoes in a friend's home, particularly one I'd visited before, so I knew to expect it and could dress appropriately.

As an avowed indoor shoe-wearer, here's what I hate: Going to a large gathering at someone's house who I do not know well where I'll have to stand around a lot and learning as I arrive at the door that I have to take off my shoes. My tendinitis! My mismatched socks! Or worse, standing around in bare feet?!

Taking my shoes off in the home of an actual friend is not a big deal at all, and I would never consider them an asshole for having a no-shoes policy (especially if they casually mentioned it at the time of the invitation the first time I went there.)

tl;dr: OP, no reasonable person would object to your no-shoes request, so don't worry about that part.
The only person who feeds my dog table scraps is my father-in-law, and I repeat my request to quit it every single time.
posted by purpleclover at 9:50 PM on February 21, 2013

Our dog is not only a shameless beggar but big enough to just yoink food right off the table without having to jump up- his mouth is at table height, so after losing my salmon filet to him while my back was turned, I came up with a new rule: if there is food on the table, the dog is on his bed, and has to stay there. The bed is on the other side of the room. No opportunistic bogarting while we are distracted, and no more begging for table scraps. It's a great way to drill in the down+stay commands, and it shifts the compliance issue to you and your dog, which you have multiple opportunities to practice on a daily basis, and removes visitors from the equation completely.
posted by ambrosia at 10:05 PM on February 21, 2013

Where do you live? In the US, shedding shoes at the door is a totally normal thing in some parts of the country and utterly alien in others.

But seconding the "I am one of those no shoes in the house people" and having a rack by the door. (An ordinary shoe rack like you'd put in your closet works fine and is cheap. Or any shelf type thing.)

As for your dog, WTF, that's crazy rude. Don't explain it as "it messes with schedules etc etc etc" though, the answer is IT MAKES HER SICK. Uncharacteristically unable to hold pooping counts as sick.
posted by desuetude at 10:08 PM on February 21, 2013

I haven't been assertive about this because I grew up socially awkward with no friends, I haven't known these people for more than a few months and I'm terrified of losing all of them as friends and going back to being alone.

Be assertive about it. If you lose these friends over these issues, these are not friends. They're dick holes and you're better off having to find new friends that aren't dick holes.
posted by cmoj at 10:44 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

It helps to have a little bench for people to sit to take their shoes on/off and maybe even a nice shoe horn or a tray for muddy shoes.

I think it is fine to have a funny little sign if you like. I've seen this one at a friend's house and it made me chuckle.

One time my dog had something wrong with her tummy. I just finished telling my mother in law about the vomit and bloody diarrhea that I had to clean up because of the dog eating something weird. I caught her feeding the dog table scraps right after that. She was so annoyed when I asked her to stop. A lot of people don't think any harm will come of a small scrap.

To help combat this, I keep a jar of small sized dog treats in the living room. Because they are the size of a tic-tac, guests can give the dogs as many of these treats as they want. The only condition is they have to make the dog sit first. This satisfies the urge to give the dog a treat and helps socialize our shy dog.
posted by dottiechang at 10:47 PM on February 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

It's possible your guests aren't necessarily human refuse, they're just compromised. Consider that lots of otherwise basically reasonable and nice people might just lose their shit at the sight of an adorable dog. Especially if they've never had dogs, or did as children, but never became skilled at taking care of them. Apparently even grandmas and fathers-in-law aren't above buying puppy love (cheap as it is) or using any of a dozen mostly unconscious rationalizations to permit it, probably. ("He wouldn't want food if he couldn't eat it - dogs know what's best for them, cause, evolution, maybe? It's just a little crumb, couldn't hurt, right? Oh my god, those eyes.") I bet you have a terrier.
posted by nelljie at 12:06 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Hi! Thanks for coming! No shoes in the house, please -- here's a basket of slippers and a bench to use while you change. Don't feed the dog, please. She'll beg, but don't do it."

If still needed:

"Oh, no, really: you'll need to take off your outdoor shoes, thanks!"

"No, really, don't do that! She doesn't get any 'people food' at all. Thanks!"
posted by trip and a half at 12:57 AM on February 22, 2013

When someone firsts visits, I always say some form of "no shoes on the carpet." Everyone except one person just kind of chuckled at me and traipsed in with their shoes on anyway.

"No, seriously, can you take your shoes off please?"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:48 AM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

"As for the dog, perhaps you need to put her outside when people are eating?"

Naw...the dog doesn't need to be punished...the problem is the people. If I asked someone to not feed the dog from the table, and they went ahead and did so anyway, I would no longer invite them to my house for meals.
posted by HuronBob at 3:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I had a voice teacher who had a no-shoes-in-the-house rule. I took my damn shoes off when I entered her home, no question. Her home, her rules. Personally, I walk around my house barefoot or in stocking feet all the time so this rule didn't bother me.

The dog issue bothers me less as a sign of disrespect; it's pretty hard to resist the manipulative little suckers. Just put the dog outside when you have people over.

Sadly, I think Kruger5 has it, though. If your "friends" won't respect your wishes, cut them loose and learn to be comfortable with your own company; better things will show up in time. You don't need a crowd of people around to be a decent, fulfilled human being.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:32 AM on February 22, 2013

Although I think your friends are being rude and/or socially awkward, I wanted to second rainbowbrite's comment that there might be some specific reason why people do not want to take their shoes off.

Some people do have horrible foot odor. Others (like myself) have orthotics and foot issues which make going without shoes incredibly unpleasant. Being asked to stand without shoes for longer than a few minutes guarantees pain. If you've asked me to cook a meal with you in sock feet, that would be really painful for me. Even resting my bare feet on the ground while sitting for a long period, causes a spasm of pain when I return to shoes. I am a direct person, so I would say something, like, "I know you'll understand that I need to sit, and prop up my feet - can you pass me the mixing bowl and I'll do it at the table?"

People might see "shoes off" as being part of a "picky" continuum, and therefore not take it as seriously. If you order food like Sally in "When Harry Met Sally," or if you express a lot of anxiety about things being "just so", people may feel patronizing about this request, rather than accepting it as one of those quirks. Those people, by the way, would be jerks.

Or, your request might tweak an issue they've had with a difficult person. My sister-in-law is a "no shoes in the house" person. She has deeply unresolved issues with her late alcoholic parents, who used to trash the house. Cleanliness equates to control of her chaotic universe, but she has unrealistic expectations for the house, and by that I mean, she bought expensive white pile carpet while her children were very small, so she was constantly upset. I accidentally dropped a piece of food on her carpet during breakfast, and she not only screamed at me for being an idiot, but then provided me with a can of Resolve and demanded I clean it immediately. She was actually fired from an executive job for verbally abusing her employees, so this carries into every avenue of her life, but consider that your discussion reminded me of the iron fisted regime she runs at her house. Maybe some of your friends are being passive aggressive because they too, associate the request with something or someone unpleasant - like Aunt Bertha who made everyone sit on couches covered in plastic, or who was constantly sweeping the stoop and yelling at people.

I would take some of the sage advice offered here to be direct, and ask them to please take their shoes off, showing them a mat or rack they can use. If they seem really uncomfortable with the idea, rather than gamely saying, "OK", just ask them if there's a problem. Their reaction to your question will tell you a lot - whether they're jerks, they have genuine issues, or they are reacting to someone in their past or a perception of "shoes off" being controlling.

See, by you saying you're socially awkward and don't have a lot of friends, it makes me think that your new friends might also fit somewhere on the socially awkward scale. Maybe they're passive-aggressive, maybe they're patronizing - maybe they're clueless and missing social clues. I guess I think the best solution is to be clear, and talk to them when they don't comply.

If there's a genuine problem, you can reassure the person with foot pain, "Oh, don't worry, you can just prop your feet up on my ottoman", or otherwise make them comfortable (your job when hosting people at your place). Or, you can make arrangements to spend time in environments like coffeehouses, or their houses, where everyone can stay in shoes.
posted by mitschlag at 7:27 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who keeps disposable paper shoe covers by her door for the people who REALLY REALLY hate to take their shoes off. The vast majority of people will take their shoes off rather than wear ugly blue paper shoe coverings, but at least the option is there.

Personally, I have mostly stopped visiting her because I hate walking around in her freezing, all-hardwood-floor house with just socks. Also, there is no place to sit down and take shoes off so you have to sit on the brick steps outside and do it.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:39 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder whether your pals are confused by apparently mixed signals and for that reason don't take them seriously. I don't like street shoes being worn on my carpet but, for very similar reasons, I don't think I'd want a dog dabbing its feet (and other parts of its body) on my carpets (or upholstery). That said, the homeowner is always right and for myself I'd have no problem complying with your requests.
posted by TristanPK at 11:07 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eh, grown-ups who have a medical need to leave their shoes on should say so, not laugh and carry on. I think your friends are being a bit jerky or very confused and you can help in either case by being politely firm in your requests. Do a few things to make it painless, like provide a seat and dog treats on the table. If they still don't get it, I'd not invite them any more, because they aren't willing to respect your (reasonable) wishes, and that's not really a friend.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:01 PM on February 22, 2013

The shoe culture thing is a bit of a red herring here: I'm a shoes in the house person (I wear slippers at home and don't like to go barefoot), but I always take my shoes off if I'm asked to. It's not very comfortable, but it's my friend's house, not mine.

More importantly, *everyone* takes their shoes off if it's wet or snowy outside: people don't normally wear their boots inside. So your friends are jerks.

And I'd lock the dog in the bedroom when people are eating: easier for the dog and the people.
posted by jrochest at 1:45 AM on February 23, 2013

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