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I certainly understand your fear. It's terrifying to see a dog attack and to think of losing your loved ones. Grabbing a dog by the back legs is highly recommended. It removes the support from under the dog and you're as far away from its teeth as you can get.

I don't recommend pepper spray. For one thing, some dogs will totally ignore the pain if they're focused on fighting. For another, if the wind shifts, you could end up spraying your dogs or yourself.

Things to try: When you see a strange dog approaching, get out in front of your dogs, make yourself big (stand up straight, arms wide, legs apart), stamp your feet and yell "NO! GO HOME!" Most dog aggressive dogs are not human aggressive and when confronted with a human being scary will leave.

If they don't leave, an automatic umbrella is good. Point it at the dog and press the button. The sound and movement may scare the dog off, if it doesn't, you've got a temporary barrier up. The whole time, keep shouting. You may get through to the dog or attract another person to help.

Back away slowly from the other dog. Do not turn tail and run. Dogs are predators, turning around and running for it makes you prey. Try to put as much distance between you as you can.

Above all, stay calm. Dogs can sense fear. Being afraid will attract the attention of strange dogs and make your dogs act inappropriately in order to protect you, which could start a fight.
 
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