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At that age, I wouldn't rely on him to tell you when he needs to go out. He may not even be aware himself. You need to take him out more frequently than you would think possible, gave a little celebratory party each time he takes care of business outside (so you need to be outside with him and, if he goes inside, clean it up thoroughly and quietly and move on.

I'm not a fan of free-feeding. At his age, three times/day works. Free-feeding creates challenges if you want to go somewhere and take the dog. It's also harder to monitor how much he's actually eating. And, given the opportunity, some dogs will just eat until they die. (I've had hounds and labs.)
 
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