Q: My five-year-old Corgi recently started to poo and pee away from his designated toilet area. For the past few years, he has not had an issue with peeing in his tray and pooping at the designated spot on our balcony. However, lately, he has been doing his business in our living room while we are fast asleep or not at home. He'd give a guilty look when we berate him upon seeing the mess. When there are people at home during the day (usually my mum most of the time), he will return to his tray.
A: It seems to me that your Corgi has a fear of eliminating in front of you. Has he ever peed or pooed wrongly and you ended up reprimanding him?
As he releases himself without you around, it would be good to confine him to a smaller area where his pee tray is. This will be easier for you to supervise. He should also be confined even if there is no one in the house.
Whenever he eliminates correctly, reward him by letting him out of his area. Place his water bowl near his pee tray so he learns to go back to the same place to drink. Lead him back to his confined area when he needs to go again. Only after he eliminates on the pee tray, can he enjoy free roam of the house. If he does not eliminate on the tray correctly, just clean up the mess (I recommend getting an Enzyme Cleaner) and leave him alone.
During times when your mum is around, it would be great if she can reward him with treats when he does his business correctly. If the consequence is pleasant, the action happens more often.
If you come home and find a mess, do not get angry. Dogs do not rationalise. They cannot seem to associate what they had done hours ago (you only have 1.3 seconds to praise or scold your dog for his behaviour to ensure a proper association). So save yourself the hassle and confine your dog if you are not around to supervise. If you follow the process, you are on the route to having a well-trained dog.