My Dog Doesn't Run All The Way!
It's not uncommon for new dogs and even occasionally some experienced dogs to run part way down the course and stop. Sometimes it's just a hesitation, while other times they'll turn around and run back to the start line, or just bounce around being goofy! (After all, it's a dog's right to do so when the mood strikes...)
This can be caused by any number of things, but is typically caused either by uncertainty (fear) about something on or near the course and/or, a lack of prey drive or interest in chasing the Lure. All is not lost!
If this is the dogs first run, or even if the dog has previously run well, they may stop if something has distracted them. It may be something as simple as a butterfly, or another dog near the course, or possibly the Lure Operator or machine, or a previous run involving a dog eliminating on the course. I encourage people to let the Lure Operator know if it's a new dog, or if you know it's prone to stopping or turning around. When I know this is the case, I'll typically back away from the course when the dog is running and get the Lure far enough ahead of the dog to allow it to coast safely when the dog is near my position, so I won't have to run the Lure Machine with the dog near me. This is to avoid the noise of the clicking solenoid or motor whirring being a distraction. I'll also make a point not to look directly at the dog, or acknowledge it in any way.
For first timers that won't run, or just don't know what to do, it may be helpful to run the course with them the first time or even couple of times, either partially, or the entire distance. (Under new rules issued at the end of the 2022 season by the AKC, this will result in an NQ if done during an official run, but it might allow the dog to learn what it's supposed to do on future runs. Confirm it's OK with the Paddock and Hunt Masters before doing so!) You might also try having the releaser take the dog down and have the catcher come forward until the dog sees them and is ready to go to them. Be aware that if the releaser crosses the start line, and/or the catcher crosses the finish line while the dog is on the course, it will result in an NQ, but if the dog won't run, you have nothing to lose at that point. If they'll run with you, then at least use the entry to take them down the course. If necessary, put them on lead to take them down. Again, it's an NQ, but it was going to be so anyway if they won't run and maybe taking them down will help them understand how it works.
It may be necessary to work on the dogs prey drive or reward expectations as well. Let's talk about that next time...