in is the intended way to test for the existence of a key in a dict.

d = {"key1": 10, "key2": 23}

if "key1" in d:
    print("this will execute")

if "nonexistent key" in d:
    print("this will not")

If you wanted a default, you can always use dict.get():

d = dict()

for i in range(100):
    key = i % 10
    d[key] = d.get(key, 0) + 1

and if you wanted to always ensure a default value for any key you can either use dict.setdefault() repeatedly or defaultdict from the collections module, like so:

from collections import defaultdict

d = defaultdict(int)

for i in range(100):
    d[i % 10] += 1

but in general, the in keyword is the best way to do it.