Assorted beginner questions

Would appreciate it anyone can help answer these questions:

1) Is using shields worth it, or should I go for 2-handed weapons? I assume that shields only have an effect when I'm actually blocking, and that it might be less than ideal now that there's so many lag issues.

2) What exactly is the effect of Agility, does it make you able to move more quickly in heavy armor? Is it worthwhile to train?

3) Does the Survival attribute only make it take longer before you become thirsty and hungry?

4) There's a stat called Poise on the character screen. What does that indicate?

5) On the options screen you can bind a hotkey for the action "Strafe down". What does that do?

6) Is there a way to dodge in this game?

7) How secure are boxes? Can players easily destroy them and take the contents?

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