First, I will tell you that the best option is prevention, like many things. You should always do what you can to protect the dogs before an attack happens. Some ideas for prevention: do not unintentionally provide shelter, food, or water for the cougars. This means that dogs and other animals should be fed inside, and that potential shleter should be closed off; this will encourage the lions to move along to a different area. Dogs are safest when indoors or in secured enclosures with roofs. If you wish to let the dogs run free, make sure that they are let out together, so they will not seem like easy targets.
Now, as far as whether you can shoot them, I think it largely depends on state regulations. I found a bulk of information on the website of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (including more ways to prevent attacks). Mountain lions are classified as big game, but a hunting license is required to shoot them. However, many cities do not allow firearm discharge within the limits of the city, and there are also regulations regarding proximity to farmhouses or other homes. So if you aren’t in Arizona, I would look up your city’s or state’s laws on hunting and firearms (which can usually be found easily online).
To add on to rchlths’s answer, mountain lion have a hunting season in most states where they’re present (with the exception of the Florida because of the Florida panther’s endangered status). If you shoot a mountain lion and do not have a hunting license and tag or it’s out of season, even if it’s attacking your dog, you’ll earn a hefty fine. The only exception to this would be if the mountain lion was attacking you and you killed it in self defense.
Sadly, protecting a dog from a mountain lion attack is illegal. Also, dogs, in most cases, will not be able to fend off a mountain lion. Like rchlths said, your best bet is to avoid the situation all together.
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