The former Crystal Palace striker struck late in stoppage time after David Vaughan fired Forest in front 10 minutes from time.
Gary Madine also missed a 48th-minute penalty for Bolton as they scored for the first time since April 18 having created an unwanted club record of six games without a goal.
Dobbie’s low finish from 18 yards for his first goal since October 18, 2014 was certainly nothing more than the Trotters deserved after going behind to Vaughan’s 25-yard stunner.
Vaughan had been on the field only six minutes as replacement for newcomer Kyle Ebecilio when he unleashed a screamer beyond Ben Amos for an apparent winner. That should have been three points for the visitors, now unbeaten in three games, but Dobbie’s second touch, after replacing out of sorts Zach Clough, saved the day for the Trotters.
It was an exciting finish to a game that started poorly and uneventfully. Having been pressed back in the early stages Wanderers fashioned the opening corner through new boy Wellington Silva’s powerful surge and Tom Walker’s persistence.
Forest cleared the danger but defender Dorian Dervite remained up front and headed narrowly over when defender Dean Moxey crossed crisply from the left.
Forest, handing debuts to Dutch loanee, Ebecilio and Spaniard Daniel Pinillos, saw plenty of possession but they too struggled to fashion many clear cut opportunities.
Michail Antonio cut in from the left to drag a shot past Amos’ goal while Ben Osborn scuffed an angled drive straight at the former Manchester United goalie.
Dervite headed over once more from another Moxey delivery and Madine had strong appeals for a penalty rejected following Tyler Walker’s challenge.
Michael Mancienne and Eric Lichaj collected yellow cards in the opening 45 minutes with Lichaj treading dangerously by then fouling Madine just before the break.
If the first half was a sterile affair then the second was a much more open contest including the early penalty after Clough won what seemed a soft spot kick.
With Eidur Gudjohnsen, last season’s Bolton penalty taker, now plying his trade in China, the responsibility fell to Madine.
Looking hesitant as he stepped up the ex Sheffield Wednesday and Carlisle striker saw his shot saved by De Vries while his follow-up header dribbled wide
Antonio headed over for the visitors while Clough and Dervite had shots blocked at the other end.
With the game heading for a 0-0 Vaughan fired in his first goal since 2013 before Dobbie earned Bolton only their second point of the new season.