Many times in the game i've found myself looking at a flying dragon kind of trolling me. Sometimes the dragon just keeps flying around in circles or ovals without landing or even atacking me. I've tried to walk around to nearby locations and to the points where he stops for a while, but it usually does not work and I ignore him and keep walking until we both get far enough for him to disappear.

Why does this happen? Is it a terrain issue? I mean, since the game is enormous, they probably couldn't find a way to make dragons fight in every place, so you kind of have to reach a "fight area" so that a dragon will atack you and engage in combat. Is this it?

Is there any way i can force them to atack me other than using "Dragonrend" which is too late-game for most of my characters?

  • Still might be too end-game, but I've noticed once they switch over to elder dragons, they land every time. Perhaps in the early game, some dragons appear just to keep you on your toes until you're ready to face the tougher ones.
    – user3389
    Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 21:30
  • Hm...Makes some sense,i will begin to pay attention to this Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 22:24
  • 1
    I believe this is actually a feature of the game. I remember watching one "behind the scenes" type video where they mentioned the dragon behavior is somewhat randomized. I've also had a couple dragons just lurk for a bit and then fly away like you describe. It's a little annoying, but also kind of adds a cool bit of extra flavor to the ambiance of the world.
    – Iszi
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 14:22
  • possible duplicate of What's the easiest way to pull a flying dragon?
    – Mr Smooth
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 12:13
  • I've had this same problem. Even reloading saves doesn't seem to do anything most of the time. It might be a glitch, but on the other hand, some dragons may just be there for scenery or flavor (w/e)... Otherwise, why would they consistently fly in 3-4 circles and then just go off into the distance? It's as if they're scripted to do a few circles and then leave, just to catch your eye and make you all like "woah! look at that!", and then move on, despite that we've been told that they're totally unscripted in most cases... and then, we've been told a lot of things that weren't quite true. Maybe
    – user17766
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 21:48

5 Answers 5


If you are near a village, farm, etc. go to it. If you are quick enough then the dragon will most likely attack the village instead of flying in an annoying circlular loop. You could also try to get it's attention by shooting it with a arrow... To the knee xD


If you have good aim and long range, you might be able to hit it with an arrow or a spell, but I typically can't force dragons circling high in the air to land.

Later in the main quest, you get a more direct solution to this that I won't spoil, but by that point, every dragon had murder on its mind when it flew near me.

  • +1 whoops! didn't see your answer talked about the same thing as mine (I mentioned the shout by name, deleted now! >.<)
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 15:33

Anecdotal answer from my side: I was travelling without any arrows when a dragon attacked. Rather than its usual circling, it landed and so I could engage in hand-to-hand. I'm playing a stealth archer though, so I haven't investigated this further.


A good way to get a flying dragon to attack you is to either hit it with a spell or arrow or use a shout which produces noise (Throw voice is good) and shout at the dragon, this should get its attention. if it doesn't, if possible try to go to places where there is NPCs like a village or town or find an area which is fairly flat or sloped and clear with no trees the dragon should engage, all these methods work for me. If these methods do not work then i don't know what else you can do.


I don't advance the main quest far until I'm near the end of a run(done almost everything else first) so don't get the shout for grounding dragons until I get that far. I do the College quest line first, and get the master Destruction spells of which Lightning Storm is most useful(on Legendary difficulty, anyway).

Since flying dragons(especially ones that don't get that close) are very hard to hit with projectile weapons and most spells, instant hit shock is great.

Lightning Storm in particular has a longer range than any other shock spell, and if you are wearing free cast destruction gear you can keep the beam trained in the dragon's general direction. After I "get it's attention", I usually switch over to dual cast Thunderbolt or weapons. Sometimes I stick with Lightning Storm until I can get the dragon to land.

If the dragon flies away, I look in its direction of departure and pull up my map to see if there are any outside dragon lairs roughly in line with the direction my character is pointing on the map. I make a mental note of any and try to check them out when I'm in that/those area(s) again. More often than not, there is at least one dragon waiting for me.

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