Anyone who has been menaced by a large and savage-looking dog will admit to the terror inspired and the wish to be protected at all costs. The chances of being attacked by a dog are low, but if you live in an area where dogs are abundant and some dogs are given to roaming, you might want to consider carrying a canister of dog spray on your person. This is especially the case if you have children, or a vulnerable dog that you often take outside.
There are a variety of products that offer protection from stray or aggressive dogs. Pepper spray is one of the most effective for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it repels dogs from a distance. Some products--a prod which delivers an electric current, for example--require you to be within arm's length of the dog, and they take a fair amount of dexterity to maneuver. Pepper spray, on the other hand, is usually effective up to about 10 feet, and jets out like water from a high-pressure hose. Very little pepper spray is needed to deter a vicious dog. Pepper spray stings. Adrenaline, rage, toughness and mental illness are not factors; a generous dose of pepper spray will discourage even a rabid dog in a matter of seconds.
While pepper spray is highly effective on aggressive dogs, and its mechanism is simple (point and press a button), protecting yourself from an attack can get complicated. Adrenaline and excitement won't lessen pepper spray's effect on a dog, but they may lessen your ability to wield pepper spray effectively. Dog pepper spray works much like an aerosol can of hornet spray. If you can hit a hornet's nest wedged up in the eaves of your house with the latter, you can hit a distant dog on the muzzle with the former. However, if the hornets were to swarm down at you angrily as you took aim, a dark blur of threatening noise, your heart rate would accelerate, your adrenaline would spike, and your arm would subsequently tremble. The analogy to an attacking dog is obvious. You can and should practice with your pepper spray (you'll have to refill it from time to time regardless, to keep it fresh--an expiration date will show on the canister), until you can hit an immobile target on the bulls-eye with confidence. But, keep in mind that confrontation with a real animal significantly raises the stakes. Reminding yourself of this beforehand will help you stay calm should a crisis occur.
Pepper spray is legal to carry in most areas. Pepper spray for dogs comes in a canister which you can attach to your belt for convenient and ready use. You should, however, find out about the laws concerning pepper spray (if there are any) where you reside.
You might also want to consider whether your dog pepper spray is ideal in terms of both effectiveness on an aggressive dog and the dog's long-term health. Pepper spray is intensely painful, and its consequences can last for several hours. The situations in which you're likely to confront an aggressive dog are diverse. The reasons for which a dog might act aggressively are diverse. Better that an attacking dog receive a dose of pepper spray than that you, your pet or your child sustain a serious injury. Still, some forms of dog pepper spray are more humane than others. They pack just as much punch, but are approved by the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) as the most humane way to throw a punch at a threatening animal if and when it is necessary.
Talk to your veterinarian if you have further questions, whether about the best brands of pepper spray for dogs, their long-term impact, safety measures for your own pet, etc. If dogs roam freely in your neighborhood, or you have suspicions about a certain animal, contact Animal Control (which can be found either online or in a phone book). Try to plan outdoor activities such as jogging or walking your dog in safe, controlled environments such as public parks. You can never completely predict an attack, but arming yourself with common sense as well as an acute deterrent such as pepper spray goes a long way toward securing you and your loved ones.