Well, I was leaning quite heavily toward crate training Buster and Belle, and holy cow, you all pushed me the rest of the way. Thanks for all of your suggestions and support. Much of your advice echoes the plan we have in place and that makes me rest a bit easier. It certainly makes A. feel better. I think he finally believes me that we can introduce the crates to the pups and it won't be a prison.
I wasn't a part of the pups lives when they were "trained." In fact, I've never taken part in training a dog - ever. So, this is all kind of new for me. I am just lucky that I have really well-behaved pups (for the most part). Really, the only time they cause trouble is if we leave them alone in the house.
My ultimate goal is to crate train the ding dongs and use that training to then train them to be in the house alone. You know, introduce them to being home alone much the same way as we will introduce the crates - a bit at a time and with plenty of positive reinforcement. All the while, taking steps to ease any anxiety. So! There will be much watching TV with our coats on and keys in hand! Plus, then they will have the crates as their established "safe place." I'd really rather not keep them cooped up in the crates all day. They are active dogs. I doubt they'd like to be in a crate for four hours at a time.
We haven't purchased the crates yet. We are trying to figure out where, in our itty-bitty house, to set them up. We would like to set them up in the living room/kitchen area, as that is were we spend most of our time. But damn, I have no idea how to reconfigure the living room to accomodate two very large crates. (I am kind of re-thinking my Will Always Have Two Dogs philosophy.) Eek!
Since we will be taking this training slowly, the introductions to the crates will happen during the day. We may or may not eventually use them overnight. The dogs are always calm and never get into anything at night. However, it would be nice to know the dogs can sleep in their crates calmly overnight should we find ourselves in a place/situation that calls for it.
To kick start this all off, I purchased two Extreme (!?!?!) Kong's. Now, you need to understand something. Our dogs don't play with toys, dog or otherwise. They look at you like you've lost your fool head by throwing a ball and then chattering at them in high-pitched voices like an idiot. There is not tug-of-war. There is only wrestling between the two of them, and occasionally A. will join it.
I was hoping the Kong's would work as something to occupy their wee little brains for a bit and could be used as a part of crate training. If they took to them, instead of ignoring them completely. (My other fear, of course, is that Buster will get so damn anxious to get The! Food! that he will eat the entire damn Kong.)
You guys! My dogs acted like dogs! They love those things! Of course, they have both figured out how to flip it over and get the kibble out already. So now we are using a combo of kibble smeared in peanut butter and homemade treats that are a bit bigger and have to be maneavured inside. They love them! It keeps them occupied for a good 45 minutes and then they are wiped out. They have completely forgotten about their J-E-R-K-Y night-time snack! So! Wiped! Out! And! Buster is so SMRT! He has not eaten the entire toy out of frustration.