(CNW Group/Canadian Animal Health Institute)

The key to getting a great pet-sitter over the holidays may be to book in advance

An online pet sitting company says pet’s safety and comfort will be increased with a good caretaker

During the busy holiday, the team at Rover.com recommends pet parents begin their search early as the prime booking window is 4-6 weeks out from their travel dates.

This will give pet owners the best chance of finding a sitter with their requested dates available, and time to meet with the sitter to ensure it is a good fit.

The holidays are one of the few times when everyone travels at the exact same time. That also means calling in favors of friends and family may not be an option. Booking on Rover makes it easy to find a loving sitter to care for your pet.

Among the most popular pet sitters on Rover, 10 per cent already received a holiday booking by June 28 and 50 per cent booked holiday stays by Sept. 20.

RELATED: Keep your pets safe while driving

Tips from Rover.com for Pet Parents on their Pet Having a Safe Stay While They’re Away:

  • Every dog is special and unique, so it’s important to find a sitter who will cater to your dog’s needs and provide personalized care. Here’s recommendations from Rover.com to ensure your dog has a safe and happy sitter stay:
  • Schedule a meet-and-greet – Schedule a time to meet with your sitter before the stay to ensure it’s a good fit for everyone. It’s best to do this meeting in the environment in which your dog will be staying. If your dog will be staying in the sitter’s home you’ll also want to introduce him to other family members and pets in the home at this time. See if your dog is comfortable with the sitter, and monitor for any signs of anxiety or discomfort.
  • Explain your dog’s needs – Use this time to go over your dog’s routine, medical history, vaccinations, health needs, as well as likes and dislikes. Be sure to flag any known triggers that will scare, anger or excite your dog. Point out your dog’s bad habits too. Is he a counter-surfer who will try to steal food, or an escape artist that tries to break out of any enclosure? It may help to use a stay checklist.
  • Review your expectations – During your meet and greet, explain your expectations and what you want from your sitter. Do you want lots of pictures, videos and updates? If so, confirm this with your sitter.
  • Get references or read reviews – Reviews and references are a great way to assess your sitter’s experience and get first-hand accounts from other pet parents. You can use these to get a better idea of the type of stay your dog will have and to ensure your sitter is a good fit.
  • Create a Plan B – While emergencies are rare, you’ll want to talk to your sitter about what would happen in extenuating circumstances. In the event of a health emergency you want to make sure your sitter has as much information as possible. Provide your veterinarian’s information, an emergency vet option, microchip information and vet records. In addition to health emergencies, consider how to handle a situation where your return travel is delayed or your dog has trouble settling in with the sitter.

RELATED: Keep your pets safe this Halloween

A few other things that are important to consider specifically during the holidays:

  • The holidays are a busy time with family and visitors. Ask your sitter about their plans and find out if there will be visitors, children or other animals around. If your dog is not highly socialized, consider housesitting, walks, or drop ins instead of boarding your dog with a sitter.
  • If you’re going on an extended stay or it’s the first time your dog is staying with a sitter, consider doing a trial run. Do a trial night or trial day with doggy daycare.

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