Paws for Pioneers requires that all handler/dog teams certify through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Teachers then meet with their site principals and establish site-specific approval and expectations. Students are required to have a permission slip signed by a guardian and there are 3 levels of access.
- Full access to petting, playing, etc.
- Access to the same room as a dog/handler team but not allowed to pet/touch
- No access
At each school, the dogs are introduced at assemblies and the proper "pet manners" are taught such as asking for permission before petting a dog, staying in line and following teacher directions when encountering a dog in the building, and staying calm and respectful of the dog's space. SPS also has guidelines about health and safety such as keeping dogs out of rooms where food is served. Each dog wears a vest identifying them as a therapy animal.