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Australian Shepherds & Cuddling: 5 Key Things You Must Know

We all know cuddling with our furry friends is one of life’s simple pleasures, but just how cuddly are Australian shepherds?

I tried cuddling one the other day and got a big fat rejection. So let’s find out.

I’ll also explain how Australian shepherds typically show their affection and whether it’s possible to raise a cuddlier Aussie.


Do Australian Shepherds Actually Like to Cuddle…?

Most Australian shepherds like to cuddle with their owners. But it ultimately depends on how they are raised, their age, and their natural temperament.

Some breeds love to cuddle, and other breeds really don’t like it, but when it comes to Australian Shepherds, it’s rather quite mixed.

The truth is that some Australian shepherds will be cuddlers, and others just won’t…

Factors such as temperament, upbringing, age, and even health issues can all affect how cuddly your Australian Shepherd will be.

Australian Shepherds & Affection

1. Some Australian Shepherds Cuddle on Their Own Terms

Aussies may like cuddles, but only when it’s on their terms. Most cuddles that you try to give may get rejected, and then when you least expect it, your Aussie is up in your face, craving your attention and cuddles.

Australian shepherds are intelligent and strong-minded. It’s classic to hear from Aussie owners that they have “big opinions and feelings”, and aren’t scared of letting you know.

It sounds strange, but this really does affect how they act and behave. It’s not uncommon for Aussies to be very affectionate, but only when they want to be.

So when it’s you offering the cuddles, they may face the other way and reject it instantly! So sassy

2. The Way Your Australian Shepherd Was Raised

This is particularly true for rescue Aussies.

If you’ve rescued your Australian Shepherd from an animal shelter, there’s a strong chance you aren’t going to know what their past was like. And considering they are in a shelter, it usually isn’t positive.

Ending up in animal shelters is typically due to abandonment or being mistreated. Whatever the reason, it’s easy for traumatic experiences to affect the personality and character of a dog for the rest of their life.

If your Australian shepherd doesn’t like cuddles, it could be because he has a bad association with physical contact or he might just not be used to it. A lack of affection and socialization from an early age makes cuddling an uncomfortable activity to engage in.

Related article: 10 Ways Australian Shepherds Show Their Love

3. Age Can Affect Their Desire to Cuddle

When it comes to topics like showing affection, age isn’t spoken about enough. But it definitely contributes to how cuddly you will find your dog to be.

It’s easy to start by confirming that Australian Shepherd PUPPIES are not cuddly. Despite how much we don’t want to admit it, it’s true.

With puppies having so much energy and excitement, all they want to do is bound around at full speed. A cuddle will likely be seen as an act of play rather than love.

It seems to be common for Aussies to become more affectionate as they get older. As dogs mature they become calmer, and will naturally have a more developed relationship and bond with their owners. Cuddles will be welcomed more times than not.

4. Health Issues or Injuries

If your Aussie is dealing with a fresh injury or one you may not yet know about, preventing you from getting near him will be a typical response.

When dogs are ill or have an injury, unfortunately, they can’t tell us with words, so it’s up to us to identify unusual behavior and know when to visit a veterinarian for further checks.

It’s possible that a health issue is causing a change in his behavior or even responsible for physical pain. Either one could affect his overall temperament and desire to be affectionate.

If your Australian Shepherd once loved to cuddle, but suddenly doesn’t, this could be a sign that he’s protecting an injury or has some kind of health issue. Either way, a trip to the veterinarian would be a good idea.

5. Some Australian Shepherds Love Cuddling (and some just don’t!)

You may consider yourself lucky, and have an Australian Shepherd that loves cuddling from the get-go. All dogs are different and have unique personalities.

It’s really not possible to classify an entire breed as either “cuddly” or “not cuddly”.

If you have an Aussie that isn’t overly affectionate or cuddly, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or have a strong bond with you. For him, simply having you around is all he needs. Despite how much you want some juicy cuddles, it may not be what he wants.

Important article: How to Hande Australian Shepherd Shedding (5 Must-Know Tips)

Making Your Aussie More Cuddly

If you wished your Australian Shepherd was more receptive to your cuddles, you may be wondering if you can make them more “cuddly”.

Although you can never make a dog cuddle you there are some ways you can encourage your Aussie to be more affectionate.

1. Don’t Force Cuddles If He Doesn’t Like Them

The more you try to cuddle your Aussie when he doesn’t want it, the more you are reinforcing it to him that he doesn’t like cuddles. This will be seen as a negative interaction that he’ll remember for next time.

The more you frequently remind him that he usually rejects cuddles, the more normal it becomes for him not to want to cuddle.

It’s been reported by other dog owners that once they stopped giving unwanted cuddles, it actually had a very positive effect on the situation and the tables turned.

It’s not guaranteed to work for everyone, but other owners have been amazed to see how all of sudden their Aussies want to cuddle again. As the saying goes “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone!”

2. Be The One To Break Physical Contact First

Talk about playing games!

A subtle change in how you go about showing your affection can significantly change how he responds to it.

For all of the moments that your Australian Shepherd allows you to make physical contact, like petting and stroking, be the one to stop first.

Try to always be the one who stops petting before your Aussie walks away himself. Apply this to all physical contact that you engage in with your Australian Shepherd.

By doing this, it keeps you in charge, and as you’re stopping before he wants you to stop, it’s going to keep him desiring more attention. This means he’ll be more accepting of your petting, stroking (or cuddles) the next time you try it!

This technique is actually a proven method among many of the top dog behavioral experts. Give it a try and you might be surprised.

3. Always Use Positive Reinforcement After Physical Contact

Positive reinforcement is all about encouraging the behavior that you like by rewarding it when it happens.

When your Aussie allows you to cuddle, or even comes to you for some cuddles, be sure to thoroughly reward him with verbal praise, and the occasional treat.

This will slowly build strong mental links between being affectionate and receiving your praise.

This will encourage your Aussie to be more “cuddly” towards you and even allow your cuddles when you try giving them to him.

If you reward this behavior too frequently with treats it goes without saying your Australian Shepherd will start giving cuddles just for treats. If you want treat-fueled cuddles, we won’t judge!

What Are Your Expectations of Your Aussie?

We as loving pet owners always want to show our furry friends just how much we love them, and physical affection is normal.

But we have to remember that our actions are based on what we know: human behavior. Canine behavior and their social “rules” are different, it’s just how it is and we can never change that.

Whether or not they are cuddly, to them, isn’t important. And rejecting your cuddles isn’t a sign of less affection (from their point of view).

Being their leader and the person that they look to for guidance is already the highest form of companionship understood by your dog. And that’s likely what you have already.

So if your Aussie isn’t very cuddly, it’s doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad. And managing your expectations is important. We can’t expect our dogs to want to cuddle. They were once wild animals, and will always be different.

Are Australian Shepherds Affectionate In General?

Australian Shepherds are typically considered to be very affectionate when compared to many other breeds. Aussies quickly bond with their owners and this makes for easy cuddles on the couch whenever there’s time.

The main factor that will change this is how you interact with your Aussie. After all, the kind of bond you develop is down to the owner.

The more you engage with your Aussie, spend quality time with them, play, train and be there for them, the higher your chances of a close bond.

Conversely, the more distant you are with your Aussie, the higher the chances of them being reserved around you and perhaps not showing you the affection you thought they would.

You might like some of these Aussie articles below:
When Do Australian Shepherds Stop Growing?
How Long Do Australian Shepherds Usually Live?
Australian Shepherds In Cold Weather: Safety Advice

Last Thoughts

So there you have it, some Australian Shepherds are naturally cuddly, and others are not. Sometimes it’s because of the way they were raised, their age, temperament or it’s just down to individual personalities.

View more Australian Shepherd articles >>


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.