Double check there isn’t a health issue going on. Some health problems can cause appetite and behaviour changes. Sometimes the meals we’re feeding our dogs aren’t properly balanced and our dogs might be missing out on micronutrients. If your dog is obsessive about food, raise the question with your vet at their yearly wellness check.
Ditch the food bowl. You’ve heard me say it before and you’ll hear me say it again. Stop feeding out of regular bowls. For dogs who are overstimulated by food, solving simple puzzles can help them learn to use their brain when confronted with the magical goodies. If you get frustration behaviours (barking, giving up, etc), it’s too hard. Simple towel wraps are a great place to start!
Train with their kibble. We all love giving our dogs special treats, but there is no reason they can’t work for their kibbles. If treats are too overstimulating, lower the value of the reinforcement by using their everyday meals. Save the good stuff for working around distractions, and for difficult things like overcoming fears or recall.
Build calm outside of training sessions. We can’t contain learning to the 5 minutes of training we do every day. The dog is still learning the other 1435 minutes. If the dog is learning to be nutty and hectic when they get up in the morning, when they go for a walk, when the mail comes, when someone comes to visit, when they get a toy, when they see a squirrel out the window, etc etc etc, that 5 minutes of training is going to do shit all.
Teach calm behaviours first. Excitable behaviours are the most fun to train. But for a dog who is hyperactive around food, we need to start with calm behaviours. Things like settling on a mat, “zen bowl” and Chirag Patel’s Bucket Game are all great places to start.