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I don't think it is necessary to keep your dog in a perfect heel at all times. I certainly don't with Lexus. I do think it is beneficial to have a command for loose leash walking. Example, we have our heel command and when I let her out to walk in front of me and enjoy the smells :) I tell Lex - "Go Easy". And she immediately walks out and starts sniffing. When I recall her to heel (or the German counterpart I actually use), she comes right back and we heel on.

That way it isn't really an example of her taking "leadership" or however some may interpret it, but instead she has been granted the freedom to walk ahead of me by me.
 
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