"Third Place" And The Place For Walking: Systematic Approach To Solving Problems


Changed attitudes towards pets and an increase in the number of companion dogs among urban residents came into conflict with the lack of infrastructure that can meet the increased need for dog walking areas. The analysis shows that a part of potentially applicable territories can be formalized in a format comparable to the "third places" with their appropriate content - objects, services, an atmosphere of a comfortable environment for the interaction of participants in accordance with their established interests. The emerging public demand for solving the problem of the shortage of such territories, as well as simpler ones, in places of walking accessibility, has incorporated a complex set of issues (environmental and sanitary safety, psychological comfort, the educational aspect of communicating with pets, the welfare of the animals themselves, and a number of others). The analysis was carried out by the system-parametric method of identifying three groups of factors indicating the systematic nature of the situation under study. Detailed detailing made it possible to identify the multidimensional essence of the problem, indicating a high level of complexity, and therefore its solution requires an interdisciplinary approach and expanding the composition of participants in such social interaction in order to remove the economic, managerial and social restrictions imposed on the system.

Keywords: Comfortable urban environment, walking areas, "third places", systematic approach


One of the trends in social changes in modern society is the inclusion of pets in its comfort circle without the traditional utilitarian (service or security) function historically determined by it. Due to the low relevance of the protective functionality of breed properties in megalopolises, the attitude to pets as to psychological "partners", family members, companions, endowing them with a certain "humanized" interfamily perception came to the fore. Breed characteristics are assessed with a priority in terms of psychological and communication qualities of dogs (McConnell et al., 2019).

This attitude formed a new understanding of the needs of animals, a more attentive approach to their needs, which, in turn, caused a response surge in the production of pet goods and services oriented towards this. At the same time, the most significant needs of animals associated with natural needs still remain outside the scope of such attention. These include both walking for physiological activities and ensuring sufficient physical activity, which largely depends not only on pet owners, but also on the availability of urban infrastructure that meets this need (Mellor et al., 2020).

Pet owners, within the framework of existing regulatory restrictions, are faced with the lack of conditions that allow, without violating the boundaries of norms, to provide pets with an important component of health associated with sufficient walking and physical activity.

The urgency of the problem is confirmed by the first steps that are being taken by municipalities in this direction (Rybakova et al., 2021), but it is extremely difficult to find a solution within the existing framework of the requirements of regulatory documents.

In this regard, consideration of the issue requires the most detailed consideration of the interests of all participants in the relevant social interaction, which becomes possible when analyzing the situation on the basis of a systematic approach. Opening of all problem layers, which makes it possible to make a system-parametric method of analysis (Sagatovsky, 1973), is necessary for the adoption and implementation of effective consolidated decisions.

Problem Statement

New trends in the philosophy and psychology of cities, filling them with the infrastructure of comfort for residents should take into account the modern socio-cultural phenomenon associated with the changed role of domestic animals in the value attitudes of citizens. The need to create "third places", taking into account the needs and welfare of pets requiring walking and physical activity, creates a public demand for solving a problem that has developed at different levels of population needs - from environmental and sanitary safety to psychological comfort and educational value of communicating with pets. The diversity of needs that must be taken into account when solving a problem indicates a high level of complexity of the problem, the solution of which requires an interdisciplinary approach.

Research Questions

The issues considered in the framework of the presented study are related to the justification of the need:

  • ensuring the comfort of the urban environment for all residents, taking into account the principles of ensuring the welfare and quality of life of animals;
  • giving the places of walking the status of "third places";
  • systematic study of the problem, taking into account its multidimensional complexity.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study presented in this article is to try to reveal the problem associated with the need to fill the urban infrastructure with places for walking dogs based on the system-parametric version of Sagatovsky (1973), showing its multidimensional nature and the need to apply an interdisciplinary approach to solving the questions posed.

Research Methods

The main research method is the system-parametric version of the system approach (Sagatovsky, 1973), which has shown high efficiency in the analysis of objects with multidimensional complexity. The validity of its application has been shown both in preliminary studies on the same topic (Rybakova et al., 2021) and in other interdisciplinary studies (Gulenkova et al., 2017). In the work (Rybakova et al., 2021), preceding the consideration of the problem of the unformed infrastructure of walking places, an assessment of the situation is presented from the standpoint of the presence of fundamental reasons for such an analysis (the impossibility of resolving the issue in case of urgent need, the multidimensionality of the problem and its interdisciplinary nature). A high level of research detail using this method is provided by a clear structure of parameters that characterize the object as a system.

In addition to the main research method, an analysis of the research directions of modern scientists on the issues under study was also used, confirming the validity of the main conclusions.

Comfortable environment and well-being of humans and animals

Global trends in the field of providing necessary and sufficient conditions for keeping pets are focused on the principles of animal welfare formulated about 30 years ago, the theoretical development of which currently takes into account physical and mental factors. Among them are not only the conditions necessary for safety and survival (avoiding thirst, hunger or pain), but also emotional and motor positively colored patterns (absence of boredom, playfulness, vitality, physical activity corresponding to genetically inherent breed properties) (Mellor et al., 2020).

Providing the conditions for comfortable urban living in the current conditions of the growing share of families taking dogs as pets should be directed not only to caring for the comfort and health of people. The quality of life of both humans and animals includes a number of indicators related to the emotional assessment of well-being. In the conditions of an unformed urban environment for dog owners and the presence of a legal framework that is not provided with appropriate infrastructure, they are forced to comply with imperfect standards to the detriment of the health of their pets, which has a negative impact on the emotional background of both humans and animals.

It should be added that this problem is not only a matter of consumer demands. It is also an important environmental issue, as shown in a number of studies and reviews (Rybakova et al., 2021). The urban environment is part of the ecosystem, which includes both humans and pets of a large proportion of city dwellers.

Walking areas and the concept of "third places"

The concept of "third place" indicates the importance of creating social spaces within the urban environment for various communities. Since the first mention of such infrastructural elements, the theory and practice of "third places" has evolved from places of communication and eating, to events of unifying significance. However, in the studied sources, among the potential options, there is no such type of "third places" that would be associated with walking pets. At first glance, such a formulation of the question may cause internal contradictions due to the customary perception of walking as a utilitarian primitive task not burdened with social interactions for informal communication. However, there are studies that indicate the specificity of communication between dog owners, related to the fact that a pet is an occasion for communication and acquaintance, and such communication is a way of exchanging experiences and information that are important for dog owners (Wells, 2006).

The principle of assigning places where dog owners can meet or spontaneously already meet in separate locations to zones of third places is guessed in the generality of features of those and other territories (Kepkowicz et al., 2019). Let's consider them in comparison.

The informality of communication in places of walking is predetermined by the lack of formal regulations for such communication, is based on emotional attachment to their pets, and, due to this attachment, the spread of positive perception to other people's pets. The need for daily walking synchronizes the time of representatives of different social groups and statuses that meet at such venues, which corresponds to the inclusiveness of third places. And dog owners are united by the presence of a community of interests, which is one of the signs of informal communication, characteristic of "third" (after "home" and "work") places.

The need to comply with the requirement for walking accessibility of "third places" also applies to walking areas. According to sanitary and building standards, a reasonable distance to walking places should take into account both the sanitary and hygienic safety for residents and the physiologically acceptable distance for the animal to the destination.

The positive mood that forms the atmosphere of third places is largely determined by both the characters of the pets and the communicative competence of the owners. A large share of negativity, as a rule, is formed on the part of townspeople who do not belong to the social group "dog owners" due to the "public" opinion formed by the information media associated with a categorical attitude towards dogs and their owners. This is one of the problems that should be solved by educational methods. Another problem that also needs to be solved so that the places for walking can fully correspond to the territories of third places is the creation of convenience, a comfortable atmosphere and, to a certain extent, coziness, if this can be attributed to open areas.

A systematic approach to the problem under study

The author of the system-parametric method of analysis indicates that the validity of its application is based on identifying the underlying causes, the analysis of which we presented earlier (Rybakova et al., 2021). Its results showed that:

  • the urgency of solving an urgent problem is due to the ineffectiveness of standard solutions for the long-formed dense development of a modern city, and the lack of long-term planning in the rapidly growing construction of new residential complexes in free areas;
  • the multidimensional complexity of the problem covers a wide range of interests of the participants involved in social interaction, which does not allow to effectively resolve the situation with the approaches previously applied to its solution;
  • the existing norms, with the lack of conditions for their observance, create a paradoxical contradiction: the impossibility of their implementation forces dog owners to violate them, reduces the motivation for their implementation, which leads to an increase in the contamination of public areas.

The specified set of reasons formed the basis for a systematic analysis of the problem under consideration - identifying the factors of its generation, formation and conditioning as a system.

The first group of factors includes those that generate the system - its final target state at different levels of functioning, and key contradictions that play a starting role for all interactions of the system's elements.

The second group includes the composition of the system; the properties of its elements that distinguish them from each other; and the structure, which is understood as the relationship between the elements - it is in the interaction that the properties of the elements of the systemic composition are manifested.

The third group is the factors that determine the existence and functioning of the system. They are inherently limiting and include the constraints imposed on the system by economic, managerial and social influences (Gulenkova et al., 2017; Sagatovsky, 1973).

Below are a summary of the results of the analysis.


Let us consider as a system the situation of a shortage of places for walking animals in the urban infrastructure.

Systemic group of factors

The need to fill the urban infrastructure with places for walking dogs, studied as a system, as the first system-generating factor has an inherent target state in accordance with the expected end result. But, as in any system, the goals of systems are formed in two directions. The exogenous vector is formed by large-scale goals in the public interest: ensuring a comfortable urban environment, population safety (Kulkov & Rogozhnikova, 2017), reducing sanitary and environmental risks (Kwan et al., 2019; Sivkova & Khazova, 2017). Endogenous goals affect the interests of smaller groups with different interests: dog owners and other city dwellers who are not related to the owners (Guinness et al., 2020). At the same time, goals can be both utilitarian and healthful (Brown & Jensen, 2020; O'Neal et al., 2020), psychological (McConnell et al., 2019; Wenden et al., 2021), educational (Eli & Changmin, 2014), the communicative (Douglas et al., 1991) aspect of social interactions.

This list is not limited to the listed aspects, but is sufficient to illustrate the relevance and multifaceted manifestation of the problem in the framework of social interactions.

The second factor of this group is the contradiction that contributed to the generation of the problem situation. In the case of their deficit in the urban infrastructure, several such contradictions arise at once.

The first and main contradiction has developed historically: despite the existing building and sanitary standards, which set the main parameters of walking areas with an indication of safe and reasonable distances to them, projects for the construction of residential areas have almost never included such elements in the infrastructure. Despite the fact that residential construction involves the operation of buildings for more than a decade, experts from architecture and construction did not try to foresee an increase in the number of pets in the future. "Sleeping districts" were formed taking into account social demands in relation to schools, kindergartens, sports grounds, shopping enterprises within walking distance. There were significantly fewer dog owners, and the social activity of the population in terms of safety, ecology, and urban comfort was significantly lower.

The second contradiction is inextricably linked with the first: the filling of space in the already built-up territories does not allow identifying areas that could fully comply with the same standards.

The third contradiction is that if there are signs prohibiting dog walking in all relatively free territories, while a number of restrictions on walking are imposed on the owners in general, there are catastrophically few places where it would be possible without violating laws and regulations for a million-plus city. The main places where the owners do not feel like violators of the law, norms and rules are wastelands and coastal unsettled areas, but here, too, a contradiction arises associated with the emergence of risks to the health and safety of pets. And in general, these territories also do not meet the standards for the levels of slopes, the levelness of the site, even if we do not take into account the uncontrolled growth of vegetation and the infection of such areas with blood-sucking parasites - carriers of dangerous diseases transmitted to humans (tick-borne encephalitis, borreliosis, etc.).

System-forming group of factors

The formation of a system presupposes the presence of its composition, properties, elements included in it and a structure that is represented as a network of connections between elements.

The situation of a shortage of places for walking animals in the urban infrastructure as a system includes a number of elements, which can be understood as various subjects of interaction. Let us distinguish them according to the hierarchy of possibilities as follows.

The federal government and local self-government bodies, as the first element of the system, have controlling and providing functions, which are their specific properties of the elements. Their participation in interaction (structure of the system) is manifested through regulation based on established laws, norms and rules of interactions of all elements of the system.

Dog owners are the second element of the system - the most interested in resolving the situation, in the effective interaction of all elements, in achieving the target state. His motivation (focus on achieving the final result) is due to the high share of responsibility and obligations imposed on him to the rest of the system (to the state and the executive branch, to the rest of his fellow citizens, as well as to his pet) with minimal rights and the absence of actual provision of conditions for the implementation of regulatory requirements.

The third element of the system is the townspeople who do not belong to dog owners, in whose minds the mass media form an intolerant attitude towards dog walking as part of the struggle for a clean city. Shifting the focus of the problem to dogs and their owners is an unscrupulous manipulation of the minds of their viewers or readers in order to obtain an emotional response that boosts the ratings of news or discussion programs.

In this case, the media can also be considered an element of the system, which in the current situation contributes to the creation of ineffective interactions between the elements of the system. At the same time, the resources available to them could be used in the opposite direction - to create a dialogue between the authorities and the population, to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding between the elements to achieve a common goal, to educational projects that allow to form this mutual understanding.

Another element most dependent on all relationships in the system can be considered pets, for which walking issues are a natural need. As part of a change in attitudes towards ensuring their well-being, walking becomes not just a matter of physiological functions, but also the possibility of providing dynamic activity, which is important for optimizing physiological processes, emotional state, which together are components of animal health.

Thus, a brief analysis indicates the presence of all system-forming factors in the situation of a shortage of places for walking animals in the urban infrastructure.

System conditioning group of factors

And, finally, there is a group of factors on which the functioning of the system under consideration depends. These are external environmental factors that create barriers at the level of economic, managerial and social interactions.

The situation of a shortage of places for walking animals in the urban infrastructure was initially formed in non-optimal economic conditions, when it was not economically profitable to allocate plots of land for these needs that could go for commercially more profitable development. Currently, due to the demand for more expensive residential areas with environmental comfort, developers have begun to point out areas for walking dogs that will serve these particular residential areas indicated in the project. But in general, this does not solve the problems for the rest of the townspeople.

If we talk about the territories for walking and training dogs from the point of view of their formation according to the principle of "third places", then here it is necessary to understand that this becomes possible only if these objects become economically attractive for subjects who are ready to provide the comfort and atmosphere corresponding to "third places" , a line of services for owners and their pets, appropriate measures, as well as ensuring the safety and sanitary condition of the territories. Such an opportunity can be realized at the largest facilities, equipped like parks. For the rest of the sites located within walking distance, such a availability of service does not represent economic feasibility, therefore, their arrangement should look for other options for providing.

In this case, it should be borne in mind that it will not work to classify such territories as courtyards due to the fact that different management companies often carry out public services in the same yard. This factor refers to the management constraints imposed on the system from the outside. The issue requires the participation of the municipal government in resolving issues related to, among other things, economic support. In this case, this can be implemented not only as co-financing of the maintenance of the formed territories on the terms of their use as public within the microdistricts, but also by means of an inventory list of non-refined land plots suitable for this and the formation of improvement standards, taking into account the data obtained.

Thus, management factors need to be addressed by strategic planning, taking into account the possibilities of regulation at the level of the municipality, taking into account the high social significance of the problem.

Social restrictions are imposed by the unresolved contradictions between the existing norms aimed at ensuring the physical, sanitary, and environmental safety of citizens and the real ability to comply with them in the city's infrastructure formed over the years, which ultimately does not provide the same safety.


The systemic method of cognition makes it possible to detail the object of analysis to substantiate new strategies that are in demand when it is impossible to solve problems using traditional methods in the face of an urgent need to make such a decision.

The analysis of three groups of factors shows that the problem has long gone beyond the usual framework, becoming significantly more multidimensional, and requires solutions with interdisciplinary approaches, attracting additional participants to remove economic, managerial and social restrictions.

Comparing the degree of development and the range of "third places" and pet services (pet goods), it can be noted that they all get their development where there is a profit from this. Parks, playgrounds and walking areas do not belong to such places if they are not filled with elements of recreation or cultural events. But such content is not always possible. In this regard, it makes sense to divide them according to the principle: places of everyday use (within walking distance) - these should be sites and territories included in the zone of responsibility of the municipal economy together with nearby housing and operating companies; and dog parks, where there is a large share of commercial participants offering catering services, bicycle rentals, pet supplies, training programs, consultations of veterinarians, dog handlers and zoopsychologists for owners and their pets (Middle, 2020).

With a thoughtful approach to the development of the concept of organizing such spaces, it becomes possible to turn them into "centers of gravity" or give them the role of "organizational points" capable of solving the problems of ensuring order, mutual assistance, enlightenment, fostering a responsible attitude to the urban environment and to pets (Holderness-Roddam, 2020).


The project "Development of scientific foundations and justification of the need to fill the city structure with territories and places for walking pets as elements of the urban environment that ensure environmental and social safety, comfort of living and the implementation of certain provisions of FZ-498 on the basis of a systematic approach" was funded by the Regional State Autonomous Institution "Krasnoyarsk regional fund for the support of scientific and scientific and technical activities "and the Federal State Autonomous Educational Institution of Higher Education" Siberian Federal University "within the framework of the Target Competition of Applied Scientific Research aimed at solving problems of urban development.


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25 September 2021

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Economics, social trends, sustainability, modern society, behavioural sciences, education

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Rybakova, G. R., Doiko, I. V., Gulenkova, G. S., Grebennikova, A. E., Zrazhevskaya, I. V., & Ryzhuk, V. A. (2021). "Third Place" And The Place For Walking: Systematic Approach To Solving Problems. In I. V. Kovalev, A. A. Voroshilova, & A. S. Budagov (Eds.), Economic and Social Trends for Sustainability of Modern Society (ICEST-II 2021), vol 116. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2562-2571). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.09.02.285