To GSD or not to GSD - I ask for your assistance!
Hello! As stated in my intro post in the Newbies forum, I'm here to learn about the breed and if this kind of dog really is for me or if am I the kind of owner that would be good for a GSD. Suitability works both ways!
I love pets - I have a huge soft spot for pets; cats and dogs. Normally I would consider myself a cat person first, but mostly because I've had "my" cats. The dogs have always been the "family" dog or my brother's, so I think this time around I want a dog of my own - and of whom the dog can claim ownership of as well.
I'm currently getting out of the Army on disability from a Left Ankle/Tibia injury in Afghanistan. I can't run anymore (well, I haven't tried as my profile prohibits it and it's a prosecutable offense if I break my profile in the Army and further injure myself) and my walking distance is significantly shorter than it used to be. Nowadays I'm about a 1-1.5 mile max before it starts to pain - and that's if I start first thing in the morning. I'll be frank - I'm nowhere near as agile as I used to be.
I'm not too concerned about the time commitment for a puppy as when I get out, I'll have a pretty good chunk of money as severance from the Army to live off of while I get settled. I won't be working immediately when I get out but I will be working on my Private Pilots License and after that, moving on to a school to get my Degree and Commercial license.
I have done some reading, including the Wiki and Dogs 101 video on Animal Planet to start.
The reason I'm looking into a GSD (as well as a Doberman) is two-fold - I want an intelligent, trainable and loyal dog as a companion as well as possibly working as an early warning. I'm going to be Bush Piloting which means I will be out in the back country in some remote places. Dogs can so easily see/hear/smell something before I would even notice not to mention this breed would be good for protection in case we can't scare it off or any of the other possible situations where things could go badly for us.
I'm considering a puppy as the Degree/Commercial license will take the better part of 4 years, so this dog, by the time I might take it with me on flights, would be mature and well-trained.
I am concerned about the amount of exercise this breed NEEDS (I fully understand that for this kind of dog, exercise is not "optional" or "suggested"). I have thought of a way to work with this is I'm still good on a bicycle. Is having the dog run on a lead while I'm on a bike acceptable or might there be another way - I've read about doggy treadmills, but that doesn't do much for the attention. I would be living in an apartment - this is a concern to me as my reading says these dogs need a lot of space to run. To that end, would daily bike rides to the dog park to play fetch and bike back be enough exercise for this kind of dog?
I'm also considering a Doberman, but I think and has been suggested, that a GSD would be better suited for possible colder climates as they have a thicker coat than a Doberman.
Also if any of you are from the Columbus, OH area, your knowledge on where to get a dog and where to take them for exercise or training would be invaluable!
I guess what I'm trying to say is I want you folks to know I'm not some goofball who thinks, "ooooooo - pretty dog!" and then will get frustrated and abandon the dog because I wasn't prepared going into the relationship.
To that end, I want to make sure that I'm as informed as I can be and have people vet the idea as you all will think of many things that I wouldn't think to ask.