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Hello, I'm having an issue with my dog and I'm running out of ideas. She is an 11 month old Shih Tzu and she is having accidents in the house. Now there's more to it than that. In our house our family room is connected to our kitchen which is connected to our living room which leads upstairs. The family room is where the back door is and the kitchen is where we keep her food. While we were potty training her, we put up a barrier so she couldn't go past the kitchen, and we would let her go to the rest of the house if we were watching her. But when she turned 1, we decided that since she was having no accidents at all, that it was time to let her free to the rest of the house. However, she has starting leaving "presents" for us if someone takes their eyes off of her for mere seconds. She never piddles, its always "presents." And its not consistent in any way. This week for example, I've been upstairs for prolonged periods of time this week, and for the most part, she has been accompanying me. But today, I was upstairs for maybe 5 minutes. She jumped on my bed, I pet her, turned around to pick something up, turned back around... and "presents."

I don't know what to do! We can't keep going like this! She's starting to ruin the carpets and I can't let her start ruining beds! Please help! I'll add some additional information below, and please ask if you need any more. Thank you!

Her daily routine: Somebody gets up around 6, comes down and lets her out of her cage and waits for her to settle, then the person goes back upstairs to finish getting ready for work, comes down to let her out, then blocks her in the kitchen.
Then I get up, get ready and come down between 8-10. See if she wants out, pet her for a couple minutes and then block her back in the kitchen, take her food away and go to work.
Then someone gets home around 4, and then put her food back down and then we play or pet, just normal pet stuff until I give her a dent-a-stick and put her in her cage around 11.

For the first 10 months, we kept her in the cage when we were at work, but someone worked nights, so she would be out during the day a little bit. And we always have her food and water out. She never gorges and only eat a couple mouthfuls at a time. She is in good shape and at her proper weight, and other than this and some sock stealing, she is a very well behaved dog.
 

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Stop free feeding. You can't get her on a regular potty schedule if you are free feeding. Feed am/pm. Dogs will usually need to poop about 12 hrs after eating. So she'll probably poop after dinner (from am meal), and in the morning after eating (from prior nights meal). It can range from 8-16 hrs, but if you feed on a schedule, you will learn when she has to go. If you will walk her in the am after eating, and pm after dinner, she will usually go. Movement will stimulate, well...movements, lol.
 

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Yep! Free feeding could be a problem. The other thing is, pups often have potty training setbacks when they have a change in their routine. The change in your dog's routine is that you gave her free roam of the house. That's a big difference to a dog that has always been confined. She's allowed where she chooses, when you're home, and you don't watch her as carefully. She's just kind of surrounded by this newfound freedom.
She may be a dog who needs a bit more structure for a little bit longer.
Also, how old is she? You mentioned she was 11 months old, except that you said when she turned a year old, you gave her free roam......
 

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Fully agree with the other posters. The free feeding should be done away with just to rule that out. I'm not a fan of free feeding in general. I like my dogs eating on schedule and eating their meals in a reasonable time.

I also agree with doxiemommy that the new freedom of the house is new to her and likely doesn't completely understand she isn't supposed to go inside. Clearly she has been housebroken as she isn't peeing. But she likely never pooped in her crate because she didn't want to poop where she was sleeping.

Maybe confine her to the kitchen or a bathroom for now. It's more freedom than the crate but not the entire house either. Plus it's easier to clean up the mess on linoleum.
 

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Also, how old is she? You mentioned she was 11 months old, except that you said when she turned a year old, you gave her free roam......
Oops, a little typo. She is 13 months old now.

And I appreciate everyone's input very much. I just have one additional question, my mother is insistent that since this started around the same time that she has had an increase in time spent in the cage, and she's never done it while anyone's paying attention to her, as well as her accidents are only when past the kitchen, that this is an act of defiance or a cry for attention. Is this a possibility?

Regardless, I will be trying to put an end to the free feeding as soon as we all agree to it. Thank you all so very much!
 

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It's a misconception that dogs pee or poop out of defiance. Doesn't happen. Dogs don't have the same cognitive abilities as humans, any connection a dog makes between 2 events has to be instantaneous, or like within seconds, or it's gone. So, for your dog to be pooping on purpose because you've done something he doesn't like (like have him spend more time in the crate) , well that doesn't happen.

And, I don't understand, you said she now has MORE freedom, is free to roam around the house more, but your mom thinks she's doing this because she's spending MORE time in the crate? You DID say, she gained more freedom in the house when she turned 1, right? Has that changed, and now she's crated more?

As for not doing this while anyone's paying attention to her, well, of course she wouldn't poop in the house while someone's paying attention to her. Is someone was paying attention to her, they'd see the signs if she needed to poop, and the dog would be let out. So, there wouldn't be any "presents".

And, as I see it, the reason all her other accidents in the past were in the kitchen, that's because she was confined only to the family room and kitchen. She COULDN'T have an accident in the living room, or upstairs, because she wasn't allowed there.

One thing I forgot to mention: dogs do not generalize well. So, you taught her to hold it in the family room and kitchen, because that's where you confined her. Occasional accidents, of course, as a puppy, if she couldn't hold it and no one was home. But, each time you broaden the area she's allowed in, as in give her more freedom, you need to "re-potty train" her. If you add an area she's allowed in, go back to supervising her until she's proved that she won't have any accidents there, too. Then, if you want to add even more to the area she's allowed in, do the same. Any time you add, you need to go back to watching her carefully, as she is in new territory, and doesn't know not to poop there. If she was potty trained in one room, it doesn't mean she'll make the connection not to poop in another room.
 

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I agree with no free feeding. If she is leaving presents in bedrooms, close the doors. You need to go back to housebreaking 101. That means if you cannot have your eyes on her, crate her or tether her to you. Make sure she is always taken out on a leash.
 
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