Potentional first time GSD owner with ?s - Advice GREATLY appreciated!
I am wondering if getting a GSD would be a good idea at this stage in my life and would love to get advice from you all.
I am a single 25 yr old woman, currently living in a large house with a moderate sized yard with pool in a suburban neighborhood in a beach city in southern California (very temperate climate). I am mainly interested in getting a GSD for companionship, but also for protection since I live alone. At first I was interested in getting a dog specifically trained for protection but was put off by the price (it seems these dogs cost about 25k? Please correct me if I am wrong) and also the potential liability. I realized that I probably would be fine with a GSD who would at the minimum bark at intruders or threatening strangers.
I've never owned a dog before (only a cat, though I have no pets currently). I currently work from home and am rarely out of the house for more than 4-5 hours at a time. I also love being active and am looking forward to having a companion to take with me for jogging, walking, and hiking. How much daily exercise does a GSD need on average? Would I be better off getting a puppy or an older dog, considering that protectiveness is a trait that I definitely want? I want a dog who is not too friendly with strangers; I'd prefer that he/she be aloof and protective of me. Is this a reasonable expectation? How would I go about ensuring that the GSD I get has this type of personality? I am a very petite woman, so I assume I will also need to go through lots of training with the dog so that I am confident in handling him/her.
I also was wondering if it would be okay for me to leave the dog outside in my backyard while I am gone during the day, or if it'd be better to keep him/her confined. I'd also be fine giving him/her free reign of the house if that would be preferable. I also had a question about traveling. If I were to go abroad for a couple of weeks would that be ok, and if so what would be the best options for the dog's care while I am gone?