How to remove lures and treats when teaching heel?
You need your dog to follow the heel command in all situations with and without treats. Off leash can be a bonus to some people as well, such as at the river. Since dogs can’t generalize they need to be placed in those situations and trained to follow commands.
To start teaching a heel without a leash or treats, you may have to start in a low distraction area. It can be difficult to begin off leash training at parks, where your dog is highly distracted. Take baby steps to help your dog or puppy learn the command.
You want your dog to enjoy going out on walks, so allow his natural behavior to explore his environment. This means use heel when it is necessary but allow your dog to have more leash and freedom to sniff and explore when possible. Your dog walking ahead is not a dominance issue and as long as there is no pulling enjoy your walk.