I can about nothing but food! Dog too food motivated for counter conditioning/desensitization?

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/gj56ri/i_can_about_nothing_but_food_dog_too_food/

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We start with a sheltie – male, 10 years old, Leo – and introduce a puppy – rough collie, female, 13 weeks, Ellie. Things are rocky during the intro between the two with a good amount of growls, some snapping, a bit of pinning, squealing, etc. No blood, no bites so straight to rigid separation, a call to a trainer, and hours of internet research and videos.

We find that things are okay outside after a few days, no out of place reactions. Leo gives a few 'leave me alone' growls and Ellie listens and we can go outside together without problems. Everyone can even get along pretty well inside on the way while waiting to go outside. So we, the tired owners. have hope that things will get better and look to counter conditioning to help Leo adjust. Leo likes food and we've used it in the past to help with other fears.

But over time Leo no longer likes food, Leo is obsessed with food. After a few minutes of training he begins to offer tricks in rapid succession and winding himself up to get treats. Trying to perfect a trick or command by repetition will eventually lead to barks and frantic behavior.

Which brings us to the problem. Leo doesn't care at all about Ellie when there is even a possibility of getting food. Ellie can bump into him, walk in front, sit with butts touching, anything and he doesn't care. The only thing that will set him off is if she tries to take the food from his mouth. Of course if the treat interval is too long he'll get frantic, but that's not because of Ellie, just his own problems. He'll growl at her when she gets food and he doesn't or when she's being a peppy puppy, but if he sees you go for a treat, not another peep. He won't look at her or notice if food is around. You can ask him to look at her, but it seems he thinks it more of a trick=treat relationship than Ellie=treat. We've even tried training with 'boring' food like kibble or granola, but all food is equal in Leo's eyes.

So can a dog be too food motivated to counter condition? If so is there another tactic we can try?

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