The Australian Shepherd is known for its desire to cuddle and play with its owner, which makes it high-quality best friend material. It’s a very affectionate dog that attaches itself to the family and will not hesitate to show its excitement and affection in several ways. However, Aussies are picky with who they show love to, and when they do the following, it shows that they love you.
Here are 17 common ways Aussies show affection:
- They lick you.
- They follow your orders.
- They share toys with you.
- They bring you presents.
- They want you to rub their bellies.
- They will sit on you.
- They will protect you and the house.
- They will follow you around.
- They nose-nudge you.
- They will try to herd you.
- They try to cuddle/snuggle.
- They show excitement at your presence.
- They will show you vulnerability.
- They will make eye contact with you.
- They will want to play with you.
- They will not hide from you.
- They will smile at you.
Let’s take a look at these signs and how they help you understand what your lovely dog needs each time.
1. They Lick You
Licking is a widespread action dogs use to show affection to people and other dogs. You shouldn’t be surprised when your Aussies lick you because it’s a way to show you that they love you.
Most dog lovers consider face licking by dogs as the equivalent of kisses. Aussies will not only lick your face; they’ll also go on to lick your hands, legs, feet, arms, and any patch of skin if they can’t get to your face.
Of course, your dog might also lick your face for several other reasons, such as attention-seeking, grooming techniques, smelling or tasting certain scents from your skin, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. However, most of the time, they do it to show affection.
Note that you have to determine whether your dog’s licking is because of affection or some other reason. Behavioral training can help you decipher why it’s licking. If licking becomes more persistent than usual, you can contact your veterinarian to find out what could be wrong.
2. They Follow Your Orders
Aussies will follow your commands and instructions if they love you. They typically think of following your instructions as a way to show affection and loyalty. The Australian Shepherd is a brilliant dog with a mind of its own.
This brilliance can sometimes make it stubborn, dominant, and manipulative, but your Aussie will still obey your orders and seek to please you if it loves you. If your Aussies don’t listen to your command or try to follow it, you may need to spend additional time bonding with them.
3. They Share Toys With You
An Australian Shepherd is a playful dog with a lot of high natural energy that will always keep it busy doing some physical activity. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Aussies value their toys a lot. Bringing their toys for you to play with definitely shows that they love and trust you enough not to take the toys away from them. My best friend’s Australian Shepherd had a toy duck similar to the one in this link (available on Amazon.com). His dog, Rodeo, would only share his duck with people he trusted.
Aussies are also picky with friends, so don’t expect them to share their toys with just anyone or any dog. You’ll need to win their trust to get to this level of affection.
4. They Bring You Presents
Dogs, just like humans, also show affection through gift-giving. Your Australian Shepherd will want to show you it loves and cares about you by bringing presents.
You may find your Aussie brings you animals like rodents or birds as presents. Even though dead critters aren’t the kinds of gifts you want, it’s essential to remember that your dog is doing it from a place of love, and you should not punish or yell at them.
However, because some wild animals may carry diseases like rabies, you must ensure your dog’s vaccinations are updated every once in a while. Also, look out for the kind of places you’ll let it go to. You can also train your Aussie to stop killing and bringing dead animals.
5. They Want You To Rub Their Bellies
Dogs are generally sensitive about exposing their bellies and won’t let just any stranger touch this part of their body. When an Aussie rolls over on their back and shows you its belly, it doesn’t only signify love and affection but is also a show of how much they trust you.
Aussies are intelligent dogs with the ability to sense emotions; therefore, it would be best to return the favor and verbally praise them to show that you appreciate their love and affection. If you consistently refuse to return the favor, they may soon begin to feel like you don’t love them enough.
6. They Will Sit on You
Although Australian Shepherds are affectionate and loving with the whole family, they often attach themselves more to a particular family member. And that person is you if your Aussie usually sits on you.
The Australian Shepherd is one of the most loyal breeds of dogs, and they will always show this loyalty by wanting to spend every available time with their favorite person. The Aussie will claim ownership of its chosen person by sitting on them.
A fully grown Australian Shepherd weighs between 55-70 pounds (24.9-31.8 kg), which isn’t lightweight. You’re probably wondering how you can let a dog of this weight sit on you for very long. The good news is that you can introduce some space between you and your dog without hurting the bond you both share.
7. They Will Protect You and the House
Australian Shepherds are fiercely protective of their owners and the people they love. The natural herding instincts of Aussies make them excellent watchdogs that are wary around strangers. These instincts enable Aussies to sense when there is danger, and they’ll always stand guard and bark loudly at strangers or intruders as their way of showing you love and affection.
Although Aussies are non-aggressive with a friendly demeanor, some can attack intruders if they sense that their loved ones are in danger of being attacked by that stranger. However, they’ll often listen to you and obey you if you tell them to retreat.
8. They Will Follow You Around
Another common way Aussies show affection is by following you around. Dogs generally need to feel safe around you to follow you around. Following you around is also their way of saying they trust you.
For the Australian Shepherd, keeping pace with you is one way they show affection. Additionally, Aussies will keep pace with you even without a leash. When your dog gets older, this bond and act of respect that you share turn into devotion that they cherish and enjoy.
9. They Nose-Nudge You
Aussies will nudge you with their noses as a sign of affection. Nosing you is a way for your dog to sniff around you to gather information about your general wellbeing. The Australian Shepherd uses nosing to show you affection and also check on you. When your dog noses you, you need to return the favor and pet it till it decides it’s had enough and wants to leave.
10. They Will Try To Herd You
The Australian Shepherd has the instinct to herd, and it takes this responsibility seriously. Aussies’ herding instincts give them the ability to work around people and other animals. They’ll look out for you and try to herd you if they feel you are wandering off. Doing this is their way of showing you that they care about you.
11. They Try To Cuddle/Snuggle
Aussies are generally wary of strangers. However, when it comes to their owners/families, they enjoy getting attention and tend to be clingy sometimes. Some even suffer from separation anxiety when they feel like they aren’t getting enough attention from you.
Please also remember that the Australian Shepherd can be stubborn and obstinate, and factors such as how they were socialized will affect how much they cuddle. There are also periods where the Aussie can be even clingier:
- When they’re scared
- When they’re cold
- If they’re uncomfortable
- If they need to relieve stress
12. They Show Excitement at Your Presence
You can tell your dog loves you when it gets excited when you are around.
Your dog will show affection by wagging its tail at you and trying to jump on you. When it comes to jumping, we often give our dogs mixed signals because, on the one hand, jumping is seen as an unwanted behavior in dogs, while on the other hand, it’s difficult not to respond to this show of affection from them.
Because jumping can potentially be harmful, it’s good to train you Aussies not to jump. However, it would help if you employed some level of tact in doing this to avoid scaring your dog away. If you need help with keeping your dog’s 4 legs on the ground, I highly recommend Brain Training For Dogs. I purchased this for less than $50 and learned exact steps to keep Lily (my dog) from jumping on everyone when they walked into our house.
13. They Will Show You Vulnerability
When your Australian Shepherd rolls over on its back, belly up, and with paws in the air, it’s a sign of affection. Lying on its back like that puts your Aussie in a vulnerable position, and when it does that, it shows that it loves, trusts, and respects you.
For the most part, your Aussies aren’t exactly trying to get you to rub their belly when they do this; it’s simply showing that they’re comfortable around you and that they trust you not to hurt them.
14. They Will Make Eye Contact With You
When your Aussie stares deeply into your eyes, it’s a sign of affection. They use eye contact to communicate with people and other animals they love. Staring releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone in you that your Aussie senses, which makes your dog feel good about pleasing you.
If your Aussie rests his head on you and stares up at you, this can be another sign of love and affection.
15. They Will Want To Play With You
Aussies are high-energy dogs with a lot of energy for play. They’re generally picky and will not play with anyone. Therefore, choosing you to play with shows that they like and care about you.
Roughhousing with you is a natural and healthy way your dog shows affection. Roughhousing is considered a necessary aspect of your dog’s social development and forms a bond between the both of you. My dogs love playing tug-o-war with this PLAYOLOGY rope (Available on Amazon.com).
However, considering that Aussies can weigh between 55-70 pounds (24.9-31.8 kg), it’s essential to teach them not to take roughhousing too far and avoid barking, biting, or swiping at you while at it.
16. They Will Not Hide From You
Sometimes the Australian Shepherds will show you how much they love you, not so much from what they do but from what they don’t do. Not hiding from you is a way of them saying they’re not afraid of you, but they trust you and are secure in your presence. An Aussie would prefer to stay around you instead of crawling away or hiding in dark corners of the house if it loves you.
That’s why, if you’ve ever come home from work or have been away from the house for a while, you might notice that your Aussie will run straight to the door and excitedly greet you. They may even jump around, whine, or rapidly shake their tail for you to see. They enjoy your affection and will likely notice your reaction to this sign of love.
17. They Will Smile at You
Just like humans, dogs will also smile to show you affection and love. It’s a common trait among Australian Shepherds, often referred to as grinning. Your Aussie will grin at you when it senses you’re angry or stressed to try to calm you down. Because they often show part of their front teeth or the whole mouth, most people may mistake this as a sign of aggression.
However, you can easily tell the difference between your Aussies’ smile and their anger if you’ve always paid close attention to it. I have this problem with Lily when she gets excited about seeing my friends, but once I let them know she is “smiling” they start laughing and pet her.
- American Kennel Club: Why is My Dog Licking Me
- American Kennel Club: How to Teach Your Dog to Drop It
- All About Sheepdogs: Do Australian Shepherds Like to Cuddle (Solved!)
- ScienceDaily: Dogs Intelligence on Par With Two-years-old Human, Canine Researcher Says
- SpiritDog: Will An Australian Shepherd Protect You?
- Aussie University: Why Does My Australian Shepherd Sit on Me
- AussieUniversity: Are Australian Shepherds Protective of Their Owners?
- Wag!: How to Train Australian Shepherds to Not Jump
- Wikipedia: Oxytocin