I live aboard with a Yellow Lab (10% dog, 90% fish) and two cats. They seem happier living aboard our 37-footer than they ever were in big houses or with big yards. They haven't been out under sail, so they may not like heeling any more than I do, but they haven't ever minded motoring around. In fact, the dog is terrified of the decks (too slippery for her taste) but as soon as we cast off the lines she runs up and down the decks watching birds, trying to help with lines, et cetera. She's also been out on powerboat fishing trips going on plane with big loud engines and never batted an eyelash. She had no problem holding it for 8+ hours on fishing trips, but I would hurry her to a grassy spot once we docked. She holds it 8+ hours when I'm gone to work, too.
I tried Astroturf in the winter when the tides were very low and it was very difficult to get her on and off the boat. She hasn't been willing to use the Astroturf. (Yes, I even peed on it myself so she'd know what it was for... the things we do for our kids!) A few folks have told me that to really get them to go on the deck or the Astroturf you probably need to anchor out for a few days so there is no other choice. Their natural first choice will always be real grass on terra firma. But I do believe they can be trained with enough time and patience.
I have not yet gotten her in a dinghy... I don't have a swim platform or anything, so it'll be a few feet down from deck to dink no matter what. My options will likely be either trying a ramp or making a sling to lower her in by swinging the boom out over the dink. I've heard of people doing this; not sure she'll enjoy the feeling of puppy davits, but it might work.
Far and away most dogs would rather be with their pack than be left behind, so unless they are clearly very stressed by being aboard, I would make the effort to bring them along. If it isn't being fun for you and them, then perhaps they get to visit friends or a kennel while you cruise.
Blogging my adventures aboard:
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