I've been searching through the posts in this forum for a similar situation to mine to get some advice on dogs biting toddlers. It seems like every scenario is just slightly different so I'm hoping to get some feedback on mine specifically.
Here are all the facts I think could be relevant:
1. my female dobe (Frieda) is 7 and we got her at age 1 from IL Doberman Rescue. She came up from New Orleans and I think they got her around 6-8 months of age.
2. Frieda has had multiple situations of nipping from being overexcited or protective. Once we figured out her triggers, we were able to control those situations. For example, no one enters the house unless we are the first at the door to greet them. Frieda is just too unpredictable to know who is going to be perceived as a 'threat' and get a warning bite. While we have never encouraged her protective behavior, I know it is natural and we never felt that there was something wrong with her.
3. When I got pregnant 2 1/2 years ago, we took Frieda to obedience classes for 6 weeks with a fantastic trainer (also trains police dogs) and got some really good insight and people training
on how to handle her dog aggression, manage any situation with her, introduce to baby, etc.
4. We live in a 2 bedroom condo in a small city. No yard, but do try to get walks and running in whenever we can.
Our son is almost 2 now and we have had two situations where Frieda has snapped at his face and left teeth marks. Neither has been deep, they are clearly warning snaps. This recent one has left a long red mark near his eye and another smaller one by his ear. Our trainer is very familiar with Frieda's situation and agrees she is displaying a level of control by not causing actual harm.
A few days ago, I was in our kitchen and Frieda was in the living room. The living room is primarily my son's space with toys and couches the dogs are not allowed on. Her dog bed is located elsewhere. My son ran from the kitchen to the living room and within seconds I heard her snarl (the one you know is accompanying a bite). I know he likely did something to provoke her, but he has never done anything overly aggressive to her such as pulling her ear, poking her eye, etc. Their typical interactions are positive - they will both play bow at each other or chase around the house. If he gets overexcited and starts to give hard pats or climb under her, I immediately stop them. I also stop them if Frieda starts to do her 'raging bull' when she is doing a play bow and starts scratching at the floor because she will get paw his back and leave scratch marks.
I know everyone will say never leave kids unsupervised, but I just don't know how to control this without locking her up all the time. With our condo being set up with a kitchen/dining area that is separate from the living room, it's just not feasible to keep our son and dog in the room with us at all times. The fact that the first situation a few months ago WAS supervised frustrates me because I can see where she was caught by surprise (he fell down against her back legs). But my son is not even 2 so I don't know how much longer I can live with this knowing that any unexpected movement could trigger a bite. Even a warning snap could go wrong very easily.