The intuitive answer is that if you don't have unbounded loops and you don't have recursion and you don't have goto, your programs terminate. This isn't quite true, there are other ways to sneak non-termination in, but it's good enough for most practical cases. Of course the converse is wrong, there are languages with these constructs that do not allow non-terminating programs, but they use other kinds of restrictions such as sophisticated type systems.
A common restriction in scripting languages is to dynamically prevent recursion: if A calls B calls C calls … calls A, then the interpreter (or checker, in your case) gives up or signals an error, even if the recursion might actually terminate. Two concrete examples:
The C preprocessor leaves a macro intact while it is expanding that macro. The most common use is to define a wrapper around a function:
#define f(x) (printf("calling f(%d)\n", (x)), f(x))
This expands to
(printf("calling f(%d)\n", (3)), f(3))
Mutual recursion is handled as well. A consequence is that the C preprocessor always terminates, although it's possible to build macros with high run-time complexity.
#define f0(x) x(x)x(x)
#define f1(x) f0(f0(x))
#define f2(x) f1(f1(x))
#define f3(x) f2(f2(x))
Unix shells expand aliases recursively, but only until they encounter an alias that's already being expanded. Again, the primary purpose is to define an alias for a similarly-named command.
alias ls='ls --color'
alias ll='ls -l'
An obvious generalization is to allow a recursion depth of up to $n$, with $n$ perhaps being configurable.
There are more general techniques to prove that recursive calls terminate, such as finding some positive integer that always decreases from one recursive call to the next, but these are considerably harder to detect. They are often hard to verify, let alone infer.
Loops do terminate if you can bound the number of iterations. The most common criterion is that if you have a
for loop (without tricks, i.e. one that really counts from $m$ to $n$), it performs a finite number of iterations. So if the body of the loop terminates, the loop itself terminates.
In particular, with for loops (plus reasonable language constructs such as conditionals), you can write all primitive recursive functions, and vice versa. You can recognize primitive recursive functions syntactically (if they are written in an unobfuscated way), because they use no while loop or goto or recursion or other trick. Primitive recursive functions are guaranteed to terminate, and most practical tasks don't go beyond primitive recursion.