13 Ways Your Australian Shepherd Says ‘I Love You’

Aussie cuddle

Australian Shepherds are one of the most playful dogs out there, with enough personality to be the focus of any situation. However, these dogs can pose a challenge if they don’t bond with you. Since Aussies are very affectionate animals, you must treat them with care. If you do, your Aussie will shower you with affection. 

Each Australian Shepherd shows love in different ways. By reading further, you will learn what these ways are, how to channel their affection in positive ways and how to mend your relationship if your Aussie seems unaffectionate. 

Are Aussies Affectionate?

Also called Aussies, Australian shepherds are renowned for their desire to cuddle. Loyal and highly active, these dogs love their owners as much as they love to play. How much they show this affection varies between individual dogs and on some factors based on how they were raised, but every Aussie loves giving affection to and receiving it from people they trust. 

However, not every Australian shepherd will show that affection the same way to its owner. While most Aussies will immediately want to be near their owner, some require time to warm up to an affectionate state. The factors that determine this reaction include how much socialization the dog had as a puppy and the dog’s general stubbornness. 

Luckily, you can improve how much your Aussie loves you by playing, petting, and other socialization activities with him or her. Just remember that these animals are strong-willed. Aussies will choose when, where, and how they will be affectionate with you. As such, you should not be alarmed if your dog needs some time alone every now and then. 

How do Aussies Show Affection?

Australian Shepherds show love and trust in numerous ways. Some of these ways are more prominent than others, but they all feed into the various ways all dogs show love. We listed the 13 most common of these signs below. 

However, not every sign of affection your dog may give you will be obvious. Aussies show love in numerous ways, and your pet might be using something you are not recognizing. 

Following Orders

The most common and usually the first sign of affection is following your orders. Your Australian Shepherd will listen intently to your commands and try to obey them as much as it can. This sign shows that your pet trusts and respects you as the alpha. 

Protecting You and Your Home

Another common sign is being protective. When your Aussie loves you, he or she wants to keep you safe from any real or perceived threats. As such, your dog will stand guard to protect you from anyone who might be in your home to keep intruders out. 

Being Nosey

Aussies sniff around and rub their noses against people to learn about them. This nosing behavior lets you know your pet wants to know you. Your Aussie wants to know where you were, your health, and your general wellbeing. This sign of love may even indicate your pet craves your affection. Therefore, you can return the love by petting your Aussie until he or she wants to leave. 

Showing Vulnerability

Taking vulnerable positions is another way to show affection for most animals, and Aussies are no different. Your Australian Shepherd will lay on its back and other signs of vulnerability in your presence as signs of love. He or she shows this vulnerability as a sign of trust and comfort in your presence as well. 

Physical Affection

Because of their stubbornness, Australian shepherds decide when they want you to pet them. They will often tell you when it is time by becoming exceptionally physically affectionate. This affection can take the form of licking, placing a paw on you, or just leaning against your side. Your pet may even wag its tail while doing this. 

  • Licking– Dogs groom each other by licking, and they typically lick when submissive. By licking you, your Aussie declares that you are a member of its pack, and it respects you. 
  • Leaning– Leaning is a sign of trust. Your dog leans against you because it feels secure and comfortable near you. 

Making Eye Contact with You

Your pet’s physical signs of affection may be coupled with him or her looking into your eyes. This phenomenon releases the bonding hormone Oxytocin in your pet. Your Aussie may want to be more physically affectionate with you because of it. 

Showing Excitement in Your Presence

If your Australian Shepherd becomes extremely excited when you come home, you know he or she loves you. Your Aussie is glad to see you and that you are doing well. It also enjoys having you around. How your pet presents this excitement may vary, but it will always be there, especially after you left your pet alone for a while.  

Not Hiding from You

Showing love is often as much about what you do not do as much as what you do. The same goes for your pet Australian Shepherd. Your pet can show its love for you simply by not hiding from you. This is a sign that your pet feels secure in your presence. 

Following You Around 

Another common comfort sign is when your Aussie follows you around. With this sign, your pet declares that being in your presence is in its best interest. As such, your dog may combine this act of affection with another, such as keeping pace with you. 

Keeping Pace with You

While you can make a dog keep up with you with a leash, an Australian Shepherd will typically do it regardless of a leash. This sign is often coupled with just following you around, and it is a sign that your Aussie trusts and feels safe near you. Because of this, you will know that something is wrong if your Aussie starts lagging when unleashed. 

Giving You Gifts

Gift giving is a sign of affection everyone can understand for the same reasons people give each other gifts. Your Australian Shepherd wants to make you happy and okay and give you things it thinks will help your mood. It wants you to know it cares about you and what you are going through, even if it does not understand. 

Wanting to Play with You

Your Australian Shepherd just wants to play with you. Aussies are high-energy dogs that need more playtime than most other dog breeds. However, these dogs are very picky and will not play with anyone. If your pet wants you, that means it wants to have fun with you specifically. 

Sitting on You

When Aussies love someone, these dogs will put in every effort to sit on them. Your pet wants to be as close to you as possible, and there is nowhere closer than in your lap. However, this behavior can become a problem as your pet grows up. 

As Aussies grow in size, this simple act that looks fun and cute when they are puppies can become a health risk for you. You can train the behavior away, but you must do it in a calm voice with positive reinforcement. 

Do Aussies Like To Cuddle?

Aussies are playful and affectionate animals that love to cuddle. They will even jump on their owners to initiate the cuddles as well. This cuddling is a sign that your pet loves you and cares about you.

However, not every Australian Shepherd wants to cuddle to the same intensity. Every dog has its personality quirks that can alter how and how much the dog shows affection. Other essential factors include early:

  • Socialization
  • Upbringing
  • Temperament
  • Age
  • Health 

Another important factor is gender. Male Aussies are more affectionate than females, which is a trait they share with many other dog breeds.  

The Australian Shepherd’s Stubborn Personality

Aussies are picky cuddlers. They will only cuddle on their terms. Most of your cuddling attempts may get rejected until your dog randomly jumps into your face. This personality quirk comes from the Australian Shepherd’s renowned intelligence and strong-willed personality. 

Your Dog’s Upbringing

While this primarily concerns rescues, Aussies are the products of their upbringing like any other pet. A bad owner or another traumatizing event can leave the dogs uncertain of their new owners, reducing their desire for physical contact. You can ease the impact of your dog’s experience, but it will take time. 

Aussies Prefer More Cuddles as They Get Older

Unfortunately, many people believe Australian Shepherd puppies are not cuddly or indifferent to their owners. This perceived attitude comes from the boundless energy Aussie puppies have, making them want to bounce around all day at full speed. To these young dogs, cuddling is just a form of play rather than love. 

However, Australian Shepherds become more attuned to cuddling as they get older and become calmer. They also are more likely to have developed relationships with their owners, making them seem more affectionate. 

Health Issues or Injuries

Fresh injuries, pain, and other trauma can alter how a dog reacts to people. The sick and scared animal will be unsure of your presence and start backing away as you get closer. They cannot express these feelings with words, meaning you must identify the signs and take your pet to the vet as appropriate. 

Your Dog May Prefer Other Forms of Affection

An Aussie may just not want to cuddle. It happens. Every dog has its preferred method for showing affection. Some dogs like to cuddle. Others may prefer playing or getting belly rubs. Regardless of how your pet prefers to show affection, it still loves you. It just may not be into the same things you are.

Do Aussies Have A Favorite Person?

Australian Shepherds are very affectionate animals, but they are very picky with whom they are affectionate. Because of that, they can have a favorite person despite being loyal to their whole family. 

This particular person gets most of the affection and love as these dogs will seek their presence as much as possible, even to the extreme. An Aussie will follow their favorite everywhere from room to room, whining if that person is not available. Socialization can mitigate some of the behavior, but your pet’s favorite person will be obvious. 

How to Train Your Australian Shepherd to Be More Affectionate to You

While Australian Shepherds are incredibly affectionate to their owners, some dogs may seem to stop showing it over time. The reason for this behavior varies between dogs, but it is easy to spot if you look for it.

Regardless, you must remember that your dog still loves you. There is a way you can repair the relationship you have with your pet. You must understand what caused the change and take the appropriate remediate actions, but your Aussie will be more affectionate and receptive to you if you do. 

Never Try to Force It

We have reiterated it several times in this article, but Aussies are very stubborn animals and will only show affection on their terms. As such, your pet may just want to be alone right now. However, if you consistently try to cuddle or play with your pet when it wants to do something else, then you risk teaching your dog that he or she never liked it. 

Aussies are intelligent dogs and have good memories. Your dog would remember the negative reaction and respond the next time accordingly. An easy fix to this is to stop giving your dog unwanted attention. It may take a while, but your pet will miss it and come running. 

Break All Physical Contact First

While your Aussie prefers to do things his or her way, you must always be in charge of the relationship. If you just let your dog decide when to start and stop playing, he or she may get bored with it and want something else. You can mitigate this reaction by being the first to stop each physical contact session. 

Stopping playtime before your dog walks away on its own reinforces you as the pack leader. It will also make your pet desire more attention, ensuring that your pet will be more receptive the next time.

Positively Reinforce Physical Contact 

As with any dog, you must encourage the behaviors you want through positive rewards and praise. For instance, if you want your Aussie to cuddle more, then that is what you must express to your dog. You can reward your pet through treats or verbal praise.

The positive reinforcement will teach them that being affectionate will give them praise, encouraging your pet to seek it more and be receptive to your attempts at physical contact. However, you must be careful with this. If you praise your dog too much, your dog may start demanding treats for the cuddles. 

Avoid Negative Reinforcement

You should avoid punishing your Australian Shepherd. Your Aussie is highly intelligent and very sensitive to punishment and may develop resentment. Your dog may even become aggressive. Always use positive reinforcement to encourage your desired behavior

Give Your Dog Enough Exercise

Aussies require daily exercise to remain normal. The exercise keeps them thoroughly stimulated and energetic. If you don’t give your dog a good workout once in a while, they will grow lethargic, develop abnormal behavior, and other issues. Therefore, ensuring your pet has enough exercise can do a lot for your relationship with it. 

While each dog is different, most experts recommend that adult Aussies need at least 60 minutes of activity every day. You can ask your pet’s vet if you need to adjust this number. 

Feed Your Pet Right

The proper diet makes a difference. If your dog is malnourished, it may not be in the mood the cuddle. Aussies are high-energy dogs, and they need to replenish that energy to keep going. You can ask your vet to learn the best diet for your pet. 

Maintain Your Pet’s Health with Yearly Checkups 

A healthy dog is an affectionate dog. Trauma can rob your pet’s desire to play. You can help keep your Australian shepherd healthy by visiting your pet’s vet at least once a year. That way, you can learn about potential issues sooner rather than later. 

Properly Train Your Aussie

Like any dog, you must train an Australian Shepherd properly if you want it to behave as you want. Your pet will also be more responsive to your commands, strengthening and maintaining your relationship with him or her. Training also shows you care, earning your dog’s respect and trust. It is also never too late to train an Aussie. You can start with the basics and go from there. 


Australian Shepherds make great pets. These lovable animals are full of energy and love their owners completely. However, each dog has its way of showing that affection. While a variety of factors can affect how much your pet cares about you, you can enjoy your companion knowing that he or she thinks the world of you. 

Jacqueline Hamel

I’m a lifetime dog owner of several breeds and a recent Cattle Dog enthusiast after adopting two puppy siblings Bindi and Banjo. Now, I’m on a mission to better understand Heelers and other herding dogs. Hopefully, through this blog, I can share the joy and lessons learned from these intelligent, protective, loyal, athletic, and intelligent dogs.

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