Is the secret to a happy dog really a tired dog?
It depends why the dog is tired. Will a dog get tired because s/he has been repetitively sprinting after a ball/playing "fetch" for 30 minutes in the local park? Possibly. Will a dog get tired if s/he joins the owner on a 30 minute jog round the city? Possibly.
There is a difference though between 'relaxed tired' and 'stressed tired'. 'Stressed tired' is when the dogs body has been pumped with adrenalin & cortisol for an extended period of time. A dog may have a kip, once persuaded to do so, but soon be awake again asking for more, needing more of that rush. Cortisol, the stress hormone, lingers in the body days after the event. If in a few hours we take the dog in the garden and play tug, chase, more fetch, or have the dog run up and down the stairs repeatedly after food, we are simply adding to that level of cortisol. Same with the next day, and the next...
Not only can this negatively affect the dogs physical health (weakened immune system, digestive issues) it can negatively affect behaviour too. If your dog is showing any signs of reACTIVITY or hyperACTIVITY look at his/her ACTIVITY. A stressed dog is also prone to compulsive behaviours, destructiveness, excessive barking...
'Relaxed tired' is really where we want our dogs predominantly to be. To achieve this the activities we engage in with our dogs may look a little different, but are centred around encouraging the natural behaviours of our dogs. A dogs nose is at least 1000 times more powerful than a human one. They love to smell! Investigate! Track! We just need to let them.
On a personal level, making simple changes to the walks and activities for my three dogs has helped tremendously with their individual behaviour issues. My hyperactive terrier cross is more able to find and choose calm, my fear reactive pomeranian is more able to relax outside, and in the house, and my yorkshire terrier who is very sensitive to stress and prone to compulsive behaviour is all round a happier relaxed senior.